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GABRIELLE 

TRANSGRESSOR 


By 

HARRIS DICKSON 

AUTHOR OF “the RAVANELS 


WITH FRONTISPIECE BY 

WALTER H. EVERETT 



PHILADELPHIA AND LONDON 
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 
1906 


UBRARY OONQRESS 
Two Oouiei heceived 

OCI le 1906 

^ Ocorwe'!! 

ic, f^o(o 

COPY A. 




Copyright, 1906 
By J. B. Lippincott Company 


Published October, 1906 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 


CHAPTER I 

The Dumb House 9 

CHAPTER II 

Out of the Convent 24 

CHAPTER III 

Into th^^ Garden op Fear 37 

CHAPTER IV 

The Coming of the Ship 54 

CHAPTER V 

What the Ship Brought 62 

CHAPTER VI 

The Housing op Murad 72 

CHAPTER VII 

The Son of the Star 83 

CHAPTER VIII 

The Marvel of the Globe 93 

CHAPTER IX 

The Guest of Dumb House 101 

CHAPTER X 

The Intruder 112 

CHAPTER XI 

I AM Called Gabrielle 121 


5 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 


CHAPTER XII 

Who Are You 129 

CHAPTER XIII 

I Shall Come 139 

CHAPTER XIV 

The Folio 153 

CHAPTER XV 

The Tablet op Brass 167 

CHAPTER XVI 

Why Need I Fear 177 

CHAPTER XVII 

The Dread op the Pine 189 

CHAPTER XVHI 

The Couch op the Sultana 198 

CHAPTER XIX 

The Plaything 207 

CHAPTER XX 

The Soul Which was Gabrielle 220 

CHAPTER XXI 

In the Heart op the Storm 231 

CHAPTER XXII 

The Lull 239 

CHAPTER XXIII 

Across the Threshold 246 

CHAPTER XXIV 

The Northman’s Banner 257 


6 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 


CHAPTER XXV 

Steady, Gabeielle, Steady 262 

CHAPTER XXVI 

Until You Came 271 

CHAPTER XXVII 

The Incident of Madame De Luc 278 

CHAPTER XXVIII 

The Stain 287 

CHAPTER XXIX 

The Stars 299 

CHAPTER XXX 

The Peril 308 

CHAPTER XXXI 

The First of Safar 319 

CHAPTER XXXII 

The Moon in Scorpio 331 

CHAPTER XXXIII 

The Vengeance 338 

CHAPTER XXXIV 

The Sin of Gabrielle 345 

CHAPTER XXXV 

The Woman Glorified 358 

CHAPTER XXXVI 

The Destiny of Murad 368 


7 



CHAPTER I 

THE DUMB HOUSE 


^ ^ W HAT ! Dumb House ? For the troops t ’ ^ 

Amador, the voyageur, who had turned carpenter in 
his old age, shivered and glanced apprehensively at 
the long brick wall which surrounded Dumb House 
garden. It was a sturdy, massive wall, without break 
or gate or crevice, rising many feet higher than the 
roof of Amador^ s flimsy cypress hut. Amador 
clenched his huge hands nervously ; muscles gathered 
in knots along his brawny arms ,* his veins swelled 
and crawled beneath his hairy skin as dark blue 
bayous go pulsing through the reeds. 

^^Eh bien ! And why nott’^ Burly Pierre main- 
tained. ’Twould shelter a regiment.’’ 

^^Why not?” snapped Amador. ^^No man durst 
enter it these twenty years j ’twould be a brave fool 
that stepped foot within that garden where Paul- 
Marie’ s ghost tends his flowers. Hgh ! By the Virgin, 
I feared him in his life time. Mon Dieu ! I lay up 
much religion against that day when I see Paul- 
Marie.” 

Amador furtively scanned that ominous barrier 
which shut out the garden of fear, and glanced 
at the three tall pines which lifted their heads 
above it ; he peeped askance at the unblinking win- 
dows of Dumb House itself — deep sunken windows, 

9 


GABRIELLE 


shut as the eyes of men long dead. Then Amador 
turned away, relieved that he had seen naught of 
Paul-Marie. His hair-grown chest billowed up like a 
goatskin bag and slowly collapsed. 

“ Dumb House ! he grunted ; it is always still — 
like that. IJgh ! it wears on a man^s courage — no 
sound, no life, nothing. Except on Friday, when the 
jay-birds, instead of going to hell, flock into that gar- 
den. Such a chatter ! Such a noise ! ^Tis said the 
devil sits cross-legged on Paul-Marie’ s grave and talks 
with them — just beneath that midmost pine. Some- 
times one may see a ball of blue fire hanging like a 
ship’s lantern against the fork. If one looks again it 
is gone.” Amador drew deeply from his pipe, releas- 
ing a cloud of smoke vast enough to create a dozen 
genii. 

Then he shifted his position and looked away from 
Dumb House, straight across the yellow Mississippi. 
Around him were a few scattered huts, and squatty 
white-washed buildings which crouched between a 
river and a forest — the tiny settlement of New Orleans. 
Amador puffed his pipe. Again and again his fasci- 
nated gaze swung back to Dumb House. Once for 
many moments he looked down at Burly Pierre, the 
bronze-bearded giant of the North, who sprawled on 
the grass like a clumsy bear stretching himself in 
play. 

Pierre lay flat of his back, his coarse lips parted, 
staring at the sky. Two braids of thick red hair 
rambled away from his temples in front of his ears, 
and two golden ear-rings dangled as the red bear 
shook himself. A leathern coat, fringed and beaded — 
the work of many an Indian woman concerning whom 
10 


THE DUMB HOUSE 


Pierre practised neither conscience nor concealment — 
was tossed carelessly across a stump. Pierre^ s un- 
buttoned shirt exposed a magnificent breadth of chest. 
Pierre’s creed was simple : A stout paddle, a long 
rifie, a sharp fight, with kiss of jug and woman at the 
end of every trail. In this, and this only, did Pierre 
believe. 

Dull, unimaginative, matter-of-fact Pierre stared up- 
ward at nothing, striving to comprehend this new idea 
of fear which Amador thrust at him. The brilliance 
of a summer afternoon glittered on the river. A 
drowsy idleness, sensuous, intangible, irresistible, 
floated downward from the vacant heavens to lie 
languid on the earth. 

The voyageur’s boat which had brought Pierre from 
Frontenac, some thousand leagues away, swung lazily 
at its mooring. His thick lips smiled ; he stretched 
himself luxuriously. “ Eh ! How good it is to live. 
There’s something in this air of yours to make a man 
lie flat of his back and watch the lazy eagles that go 
to sleep against the sky. Shake myself out of that? 
Yes, yes ” 

To shake himself out of his indolence he raised sud- 
denly on his elbows and looked aggressively at Dumb 
House wall running straight back from the river 
through the palmettoes and the reeds. ^‘Ugh!” he 
grunted, nodding at the jagged glass and spikes 
of steel along its summit. “Monsieur Paul-Marie 
invites one to keep out.” 

A pathway which colonial courtesy spoke of as 
“the street” twisted along in front of Dumb House, 
between it and the river. Beyond, following the curve 
of the river, some straggling huts had taken root along 
11 


GABRIELLE 


this path, hap-hazard and aimlessly as wind-blown 
seed. Farther still amongst a thicker cluster of shacks 
and shanties was the Government House, the seat of 
French dominion in the south. 

have looked upon much houses of the great — 
Montreal — Quebec — Frontenac. I make bold to look 
at this.^’ Pierre rose and swaggered down the street 
the full length of Dumb House, then back again to the 
door whose inhospitable jaws clenched most deter- 
minedly. 

The house itself was of brick, two stories high, 
faced with gray stone ; a red- tiled roof projected all 
around like the brim of a mandarin’s hat. The four 
windows below were mere slits in the wall, defended 
by iron bars ingeniously interlaced. In vain did 
Pierre seek chink or crack in the solid boards through 
which to pry. 

With sudden access of courage he stepped into the 
doorway, a space scarce wide enough for him to stand, 
closed and guarded with weather-beaten oak, studded 
by heavy-headed nails. Neither knocker nor bell sug- 
gested that he enter, yet Pierre raised his fist and 
struck the door. Then he trembled at his own 
temerity. 

Somewhere, from within the silence that he had 
profaned, there came an odd murmuring which dis- 
concerted the voyageur ; it sounded like whispers and 
voices — whispers without tongues, and voices without 
bodies. Pierre suddenly remembered something else 
that he believed in. His courage played like frozen 
lightning up and down his back, as one might polish 
the barrel of a rifle. 

Pierre stopped pounding the door. It required all 
12 


THE DUMB HOUSE 


his fortitude to stand a moment and listen to the 
echoes which went rumbling through those empty 
rooms. Amador shivered and crossed himself. Pierre 
held his backbone rigidly straight and set his teeth 
tight together so Amador might not hear them chat- 
tering. Then he glanced over his shoulder at Ama- 
dor, and strolled back to his seat beside the carpenter. 

^^’Tis a stout house, he said, for he must say 
something. After that he fell to looking at the wall 
and thinking — a process about which Burly Pierre 
rarely troubled himself. 

This wall enclosed a square garden of perchance 
two hundred paces across. Above the wall Pierre 
could see the crests of three towering pines, a cotton- 
wood tree, some dark green magnolias, and the top- 
most leaves of a banana clump waving in the wind. 
More than this he could only guess. Even as he 
looked, two wary old crows flapped out of the forest ; 
they barely skimmed the top of the wall and settled 
down within. The woodsman shrugged his shoulders ; 
it needed nothing more to convince him the garden 
was deserted. 

He turned to Amador, then nodded scornfully to- 
wards the slender line of stakes driven into the ground 
which protected the settlement. 

^^Bah!’’ he laughed, puckering his lips as if he 
meant to blow them over. ^^Bah! Tis a fence for 
children. Such baby barricades may do well enough 
for your lazy Houmas and womanish Bayou-Goulas, 
but ^twould make a man^s heart strangle his gullet to 
hear the Five Nations whooping in yonder forest and 
know that these play-time pickets were all that stood 
between.” 


13 


GABRIELLE 


Amador turned in Ms seat and compared the col- 
ony’s inefficient defences with that mighty wall, as he 
had done a thousand times before. A man must think 
much and ponder many things when he sits alone 
evening after evening smoking and nodding at that 
solemn river. 

^^The governor ought to take it for the troops j” 
Pierre returned to his original assertion. 

^^Aye, ’twould make a noble fortress,” Amador 
admitted. 

^ ^ Then why not use it ! ” 

Amador merely shrugged his shoulders. 

“It is too far from the water,” Pierre objected, 
measuring with his eye the hundred yards of space 
between Dumb House and the river. 

“Water!” Amador scarcely stopped puffing his 
pipe. “Water! See you not those tanks? One — 
,two — three — four tanks : water enough for an army. 
Paul-Marie had his fountains and his fish-ponds. 
The tanks supplied them.” 

“Fountains? — and fish-ponds?” Pierre repeated 
vaguely. What was a fountain ? Why should a man 
want fish-ponds ? Pierre could not conceive. ^N'either 
would he reveal his ignorance, and inquire. 

“Aye 5 heard you never of fountains or fish- 
ponds?” Ajnador questioned stolidly. 

Pierre rolled over on his elbows. “ Many of them, 
in Quebec, along La Chine.” 

Amador saw that Pierre would speak no more, so 
he volunteered the story that itched his tongue. 

“There were two brothers of them,” he began j and 
though Pierre betrayed no curiosity he composed Ms 
stalwart limbs to listen. “ Paul-Marie was the older, 
14 


THE DUMB HOUSE 


and Jean the younger. Jean was tall, with the stride 
of a moose and the quickness of a panther. We 
called him Grosjean because he was so big. They 
were great lords in France, no doubt of it j princes, 
maybe j no doubt of it. People used to whisper a tale 
of some fine lady — that the king himself sent those 
brothers away, a kingdom being too small for Paul- 
Marie and the king. Wealth they had in plenty j else 
whence came the ship -loads of brick and the slaves to 
build a house like that ? A house like that for two 
men ! Think of it ! And no women j never a woman 
has stepped her foot across that threshold. 

Pierre rolled over on his elbows again, and looked 
up : Eh ! Too much woman on the mind ; too little 
in the heart.’’ He lay back disgustedly, and lost 
interest. 

“One day,” Amador went on in the same voice, for 
he could recite this story to its uttermost syllable — 
^ ^ One day a gentleman came with a ship of his own, 
and brought his daughter j she was Jean’s wife. 
Paul-Marie raved and stormed and swore — no woman 
should come beneath his roof. Had they not had 
enough of women? Were they forever to be fools 
about a petticoat ? ” 

“Jean never swore; ’tis not his way to swear. 
But when the ship sailed back to France it left the 
lady. Jean placed her in the convent until he could 
build a house of his own. Eight speedily he built his 
house — that small one yonder adjoining his brother’s 
wall.” 

Pierre stiffened his ears. With the entry of a 
woman the little house gained somewhat of interest. 

“Paul-Marie never spoke to Jean again, though 
15 


GABRIELLE 


Hwere hard to understand how man could bear grudge 
against so sweet a lady. Two years afterward she 
died, and Jean bore his babe on a pillow to the con- 
vent. That same night Paul-Marie died — died stand- 
ing bolt upright beneath ' the limb of yonder pine 
where the crow perches.” 

Amador^ s voice lowered to a whisper of dread : 

^Tis said he stiffened like a post there in the gar- 
den. Paul-Marie bent to no man ; and when dead he 
bent not to God Almighty. Folk say that Grosjean 
found him standing there, and buried him — buried 
him in damnation, for certain it is that no priest was 
called and no prayers were said. That’s why Paul- 
Marie gains no rest in the grave, and one may hear 
him mumbling to himself if one but listens at the 
keyhole.” 

Pierre nodded. It was this mumbling which had 
frightened him when he rapped on Dumb House door. 
Verily he’d have a brave tale to tell beside the fires 
on those long journeys through the north wood. He 
listened with keen attention now, for he meant to 
adopt Amador’s story. 

^^The child grew up in the convent, brown as an 
Indian and more restless than Grosjean when there is 
war amongst the tribes. She out-climbed the squirrels 
and out ran the deer. If the sisters punished her 
she’d scale the convent fence and scurry home to old 
Margot like a wild creature of the forest. It gave me 
the chills to see her fiy past at dusk, the tiny imp 
with thin legs and great blue eyes. Folk shook their 
heads and said Paul-Marie’ s spirit had entered the 
child — she being bom on the very night he died. I 
do not believe that, do you! Paul-Marie’ s spirit is 
16 


THE DUMB HOUSE 


in the garden j one may often hear him talking with 
the devil and the jays. A man cannot have two 
spirits 5 that is snre.^^ Burly Pierre said nothing. 

“Dumb House fell to Grosjean. He shut the 
cursed door as you see, and went to the Indian wars.^^ 

“Grosjean ! Grosjean ! The voyageur sprang up 
in great excitement. “Mother of God, and all the 
Saints ! I knew him well. Tall, seasoned like a 
hickory — arm which would dent the edge of a knife t 
eyes that snap and sparkle in the night ? hair gray — 
but gray as a man still young? Eh? Eh?^^ Burly 
Pierre questioned eagerly, and Amador assented to 
each item of the catalogue. 

Pierre grasped Amador’s arm, and his eyes lighted 
with enthusiasm: “But one must see Grosjean to 
understand ; must see him in fight, when he laughs 
and begs that you pardon him if he but jostle you. 
It matters not how tall or broad Grosjean may be, ’tis 
something else — something I cannot understand, which 
makes one remember him. He always came when 
there was fighting, and went away when there was 
none. I knew him well — as well as any man knows 
Grosjean,” Pierre added presently. 

For a long while both Pierre and Amador were 
silent. 

“And who lives there now?” asked Pierre. 

“ Paul-Marie, none other j earth cannot cover him j 
Paul-Marie’ s ghost, the crows, the rabbits, the owls, 
the bats, they live there — God himself knows what 
else.” 

Amador chuckled to himself : “ And there’s Mother 
Margot lives next door, housekeeper to Grosjean ; 
she’s stone blind, yet she walks down this path every 
17 


GABRIELLE 


day to the convent and back again. She steps on the 
same blade of grass and the same clod each time she 
passes — and she blinder than a bat. When she gets 
right there, abreast this log— she always says/ Good 
day, Amador,^ ^Good day, Madame,^ ^May the saints 
grant you peace, good Amador,’ ^Merci, Madame.’ 
Always the same, no change j and she passes on. 
Should the sun forget the hour, one might set him 
right by Margot’s marching down the path. Once 
the girl — but no matter.” 

Pierre’s practical mind revolted at the idea of such 
a stronghold going to waste. ^^The governor should 
order ’ ’ he began. 

“ Order who ? Not Grosjean ? The governor gives 
no orders to Grosjean ; nay, not even the king. And 
the good God himself gave none to Paul-Marie. More 
than that, I warrant you if Paul-Marie were alive not 
even yon banana tree would be flapping its wings 
against his wall, prying into his secrets. Look ! There 
he is.” 

Pierre wheeled like a weather-cock ; a sickly pallor 
rushed across his face. He shook with palsy, and the 
scared eyes of him turned towards the garden. 

^^Here ! Here, on the levee !” Amador plucked 
his sleeve and pointed : “ That’s Grosjean.” 

Pierre gasped and smiled, smiled again, then 
laughed outright, looking behind him at the banana 
leaf that waved from the top of Paul-Marie’ s wall. 

There! That’s Grosjean,” Amador repeated. 
Neither of them had observed Grosjean when he 
stepped out of his door immediately beyond the Dumb 
House. When they first noticed him he was standing 
on the levee beside the river — square- shouldered as an 
18 


THE DUMB HOUSE 


oaken block hewn out by Pierre’s broad-axe. He 
stood at the water’s edge, his hands clasped behind 
his back, in silent contemplation. 

Grosjean turned his head very slowly, following the 
curve and sweep of the river until his gaze rested on 
the Government House, then wandered far beyond as 
if he sought to peer around the distant bend which 
barred the road to France. For some moments he 
watched this barrier of trees round which the curving 
river swept. Then he sighed his relief because no 
ship appeared upon the shimmering pathway. 

The giant of the North started forward. “Gros- 
jean!” he ejaculated; “Grosjean! I should have 
known there could be only one.” 

Pierre had already taken two quick strides towards 
the levee when Amador sprang up and grasped his 
arm. ^ ‘ What mean you ? Fool ! ’ ’ 

“I know him well ; we are friends.” 

Pierre struggled to loose himself, but Amador clung 
to the big fellow’s arm. 

“Let Grosjean be,” he admonished. “No man 
speaks first to Grosjean, not even the governor.” 

“The more fools they!” retorted Pierre; “he’s 
the prince of boon companions ’ ’ 

W'ith another glance towards the motionless figure 
on the river’s brink Pierre hesitated ; then he sat 
down. A better thought deterred him from intruding 
upon that silent man. 

“But I know him well ; I know every scar on his 
face,” Pierre grumbled. 

“Aye,” responded Amador ; “’tis said the history 
of Louisiana is writ in those scars — one for each battle. ’ ’ 

Pierre laughed aloud: “Then I warrant you the 
19 


GABRIELLE 


whole map of North A merica is traced on his breast 
and legs — never saw I man so criss-crossed.” 

Presently Grosjean came down from the levee and 
walked quickly back to his door. His was a smaller 
and a cheerier abode than Dumb House, but every 
whit as strong, with the same narrow doors and iron- 
guarded windows. Standing shoulder to shoulder 
with the big house, it turned no eye towards its fel- 
low, and opened no window upon the other^s spacious 
garden. The houses leaned against each other with 
eyes averted, as two good friends who had quarreled 
in the wilderness but who stood ready to help against 
a common foe. Grosjean stepped within the door and 
called : “Margot, place the honeysuckle on her table, 
and the magnolias. Have all ready, for it is near the 
time.” 

Grosjean’ s voice rang out impatiently, and Margot 
answered him from the upper floor. He heard the 
woman’s swift movement from room to room and 
knew the loving exactitude with which she made 
everything ready for Gabrielle. 

Grosjean smiled and stepped into the hall. Upon 
the marble top of a richly carven table there rested a 
vase. Grosjean stopped before it and smiled at the 
painted shepherd who lay stretched at the feet of his 
mistress, singing the same old song. The flowers in 
the vase he had gathered himself and arranged with 
peculiar stiffness. He took them out, spread them on 
the table, then tried to put them back again more 
gracefully — for these would be the flrst things to catch 
Gabrielle’ s eye when she entered the door. 

“That’s worse,” he said ; “stiffer than a file of 
wooden men. But she’ll know I plucked them.” 

20 


THE DUMB HOUSE 


Grosjean strode out of the door, glancing back and 
smiling at the vase. 

As he passed beyond the shadow of his house Gros- 
jean stopped and measured the height of the sun. 
^^Full early, he grumbled, and checked his steps 
when he reached the governor’s new-made levee. 
Pierre and Amador watched him swinging along to- 
wards the convent. Pierre nodded wisely, and whis- 
pered, ^^I’ve seen him keep that hell-to-split gait 
for days and days together, as if his legs hungered to 
devour all the trail at a gulp.” 

Grosjean was unchanged : Tall, broad-shouldered, 
gaunt ; a man of the forest, made of bone, muscle, sin- 
ews and determination. Two exceedingly black eyes 
looked out from either side of a high straight nose — 
looked defiantly at a hostile world. His garments 
were of the woods, tough in texture and void of 
decoration. There was no feather in his cap, nor 
bead- work of women on his coat. The lips were thin, 
perhaps a trifie harsh and cruel until he smiled. 
Grosjean was smiling now. 

He passed on, his eyes fixed upon the white-washed 
fence around the convent. He was yet too early, and 
must consume time upon the way. To his right lay 
the river, bank -full and yellow, which like the cir- 
cling rim of a cup pressed the colony back against the 
forest. To his left were a few log-houses thatched 
with cypress bark. Many ditches crossed each other 
at right angles and marked untrodden streets. Instead 
of draining the marshes these only collected water for 
frogs to croak in. 

To the few strollers along the levee — officers, arti- 
sans, African slaves, and voyageurs — Grosjean said 
21 


GABRIELLE 


nothing. They took no offence because he did not 
even nod as he passed. He had come to a path which 
turned down the slope of the levee towards the con- 
vent, when he observed a small fleet of pirogues and 
a wide, flat-bottomed barge, moored against the levee. 
Half a dozen voyageurs were stowing away baggage 
for a long expedition, while a line of negroes brought 
yet other packages from the convent. Grosjean looked 
at the sun. He must wait. So he walked on to where 
the men were working. His experienced eye took in 
every detail of their preparations — seven pirogues and 
a barge, thirty men or more — jerked beef, sagamite, 
beans, rice, powder, lead, cloth, beads, knives, hatch- 
ets — everything. He nodded approvingly. But there 
were other bundles and baskets which had never 
before been seen going into the wilderness. 

‘ ‘ Raoul, he said to one of the men, pointing with 
his finger to an awkward-looking package,- Raoul, 
you go upon a journey ? 

“Aye, Grosjean,^’ answered the man with great 
deference,* “we convey two sisters to the mission 
above the Falls of St. Anthony. 

“ Two women 

The voyageur merely shrugged his shoulders in 
that helpless fashion which means, “ I did all I could 
to prevent. 

“Yes, yes,^^ said Grosjean to himself j “I know 
the place. St. Esprit, Lake Superior, between the 
Ojibways and the Sioux.’’ 

Silent Raoul had said his say. He then went on 
balancing the boxes and packages carefully in each 
boat. 

Grosjean turned his eyes thoughtfully to the river, 
22 


THE DUMB HOUSE 


pondering those dim magnificent stretches of waste 
between the gulf and the lakes. 

Ah ! these sisters ! these sisters ! They go beyond 
the boundaries of the earth. ^Twould be reasonably 
safe for men, but — Ah ! well.’’ 

He came slowly back along the path and pursued 
his way to the convent. 


23 


CHAPTER II 

OUT OF THE CONVENT 


The convent gate stood broadly open. A file of 
negroes passed out carrying boxes and bales of vari- 
ous shapes to be laden in the boats that lay moored 
against the levee. They laughed and sang as they 
worked, with gleaming teeth and happy voices, bear- 
ing lightly their burdens of the body, for they bore 
no burdens of the mind. 

Grosjean reached the clumsy green gate. Before 
he had lifted the knocker the small grille was opened j 
he saw the kindly but regretful eyes of Sister Conflans 
peering through. 

Ah ! It is you,’^ she said f and the crippled sister 
opened the gate. 

“This way,^’ she beckoned, leading him along a 
sandy path beneath the white- washed trellis, and into 
the main building. “May you be pleased to wait.’^ 
Sister Conflans pointed to the door of a prim little 
parlor, and motioned deferentially for Grosjean to 
enter. 

Grosjean did not seat himself 5 neither did he glance 
at the wonders of painting and embroidery which the 
good nuns displayed as their pupils’ handiwork. 

Presently Mother Louise came in as noiselessly as a 
soft gray shadow, with the other woman at her back. 
She found Grosjean standing at a window contemplat- 
ing their well-ordered garden, and the patch of bright 
24 


OUT OF THE CONVENT 


green sugar-cane to the left. Hearing the rustle of 
their garments, he turned. 

Greeting, good mother,’^ he said, and bent his 
head in stately courtesy. 

Peace be with you, my lord 

^^Grosjean,^^ he corrected decisively. 

Sister Conflans looked wonderingly from this rough- 
clad man of the woods whom she had known only 
as Gabrielle’s father, to the Mother Superior who 
addressed him with the respect due exalted rank. 

“ Grosjean,^^ the mother went on, accepting his cor- 
rection, though she hesitated at the word j “ Grosjean, 
I am glad to see you, yet my heart is heavy that you 
have come for Gabrielle. Such a flower should have 
bloomed for our Blessed Church.’^ 

Grosjean smiled and refrained from debating a 
matter which had long been settled. 

“Yes, mother, I am come for Gabrielle. The house 
is ready. Her husband is expected on Le Due d^ Anjou 
within the week. A week — Tis brief space for a 
father who scarcely knows his own child.” 

Mother Louise nodded to Sister Conflans, who hob- 
bled up the stair with trembling speed. Almost im- 
mediately an upper door opened j light steps came 
running through the hall, and a radiant girl bounded 
down the stair. 

“Jean! Jean!” she cried joyfully, and sprang 
into her father’s arms. 

Even the austere face of Mother Louise relaxed, 
schooled as she was against betraying the slightest 
emotion. 

Grosjean, the exile, hardened by tempests and 
scarred by wars, folded his daughter to his heart as 
25 


GABRIELLE 


tightly and as lightly as the husk enfolds the tender 
corn. The convent and its people faded from his 
thought. He brushed back the hair from Gabrielle’s 
forehead and gazed into her eyes. Tears came, and 
dimness, and silence. 

At the head of the stair three other pale-faced women 
leaned over the rail, striving to peer into the parlor. 
Grosjean saw nothing of them j he only saw his daugh- 
ter, and deep in her eyes he saw again that other Ga- 
brielle who had blest his banishment — she who had 
died in giving him this precious token of her love. 

Slender as the nodding lilies in the convent garden, 
flushed with the glorious color of a rich Provencal 
rose, Gabrielle pressed her cheek against the tanned 
one of her father. The suns and storms and the rains 
which had beat upon Grosjean^ s cheeks were all for- 
gotten. Her eyes looked up to his like twin blue 
flowers of paradise. 

Gabrielle was dressed in gray, the simple convent 
garb, with bands of white at throat and wrists and 
waist. Her home-knit stockings did not wholly de- 
stroy the trimness of her ankles, nor did her sturdy 
little shoes seem made for peasant's wear. The sisters, 
looking down from above, marvelled that so rough a 
woodsman should have so fair a child. 

Gabrielle, he whispered, ^4s all prepared V’ 

She cuddled her head upon his bosom, but could 
not speak. 

Come then,’^ he said ; “let us be gone.’^ 

Grosjean passed his arm about her waist, and in his 
eye there was a challenge to any who might dare de- 
tain them. This daughter was his sole possession, 
and Grosjean meant to claim it. 

26 


OUT OF THE CONVENT 


Mother Louise made a sign to Sister Conflans, who 
opened an inner door and brought out a basket — the 
belongings of a young girl. Carefully tucked on top 
was a dress of coarse gray cloth similar to the one she 
wore. Gabrielle glanced from her father to the basket 
and her eyes grew dim again. 

^^What are these, good mother Grosjean asked. 

^^Her clothing ’’ 

“She has no need of them. Keep them for the 
poor.^^ Grosjean dropped a heavy purse into the 
basket. 

“But Jean!^^ Gabrielle protested; “I shall be 
lonely. I have some trinkets, and 

“ Very well,^^ he answered with a smile, lifting the 
basket and leaving the purse with Mother Louise. 
“Come.^^ 

They were moving slowly through the hallway when 
a sob came from the top of the stair. Gabrielle saw 
Sister Therese bending over the rail. 

“Oh Jean,’^ she said; “they are going away to- 
morrow ; I shall never see them again. I must 

She broke from her father and ran up the stair. 
Grosjean let the girl have her wish, and waited. 

“ Good mother,’’ he inquired, nodding towards the 
group above ; “ they go to the Sioux Mission ? ” 

“Yes, two ; Sisters Therese and Claire.” 

“ They are very brave.” 

“Daughters of the Church need have no fears,” 
Mother Louise answered proudly. 

Presently Gabrielle came down again very slowly 
and kissed Mother Louise. “Good-by, mother; may 
I come back to see you every single day ?” 

“ Certainly, my child, this shall always be your 
27 


GABRIELLE 


home. God grant you may seek it in gladness, and 
never be driven hither by distress.’’ 

Father and daughter turned from the foot of the 
stair. The front door stood open j the outer gate was 
ajar. Beyond that lay the world, the only world of 
which Gabrielle had knowledge — a world of swamp 
and sedge, of pools where frogs croaked and reptiles 
lurked. That world was bounded by a wall of moss- 
hung trees and by a glittering river. Through the 
gate she saw the crouching huts, the palmettoes spread- 
ing their fan-like leaves from the ground, thickets of 
cane and bramble, ditches of stagnant water where 
hideous serpents made their home. She saw the ne- 
groes carrying packages to the boats. And the great 
river held them all in its hollow. 

Her eyes sped along the sandy walk, beneath the 
trellis, through the open gate, across the bayous and 
the marsh to the grim mysterious woods beyond. 
She shrank and glanced backwards. 

Behind her was a cool and quiet hall, the mother 
with her brow of peace, the door that opened on a 
garden where soft sweet shadows fell. Like a gray 
bird fluttering from the fowler she darted through the 
hall, out of the door, into the garden. 

Grosjean followed her, stopping in the door. He 
saw Gabrielle kneeling beside her bench beneath the 
green magnolia tree. Presently she rose, plucked a 
spray of sweet olive and thrust it into her bosom. 
When she came back to him, with shining eyes, she 
laid a steady hand upon his arm : ^^Kow I am ready 
to go.” 

They passed through the hall, down the sandy 
walk, out of the gate, into the world. Thence they 
28 


OUT OF THE CONVENT 


followed a well-marked path which led to the crest 
of the levee. 

The flotilla of boats caught Gabrielle’s eye ; she 
knew they waited to take her beloved sisters to their 
fleld of labor. 

Gabrielle paused: “The Sioux Mission,’^ she 
asked j “is it so very far?” 

“Almost beyond the boundaries of the earth,” 
Grosjean answered reverently, for he respected the 
courage of these devoted women. 

“They will never see the convent again, never see 
their friends; they may never — come back.” Ga- 
brielle’ s eyes were very full of tears, and her voice 
trembled. Grosjean bowed his head in assent, for he 
well knew the uncertainties of the forest. 

“Come.” He spoke gayly as he might, for the 
thought had saddened Gabrielle. “Come, let us go 
home; we have many beautiful things awaiting us.” 

They walked along the levee’s crest, Gabrielle cling- 
ing to her father’s arm and looking out upon the river 
which came brimming to their feet. 

The sultriness of midday had given place to a cool 
breeze from the southern sea. Many people were 
abroad. Grosjean spoke to none ; but every stroller, 
especially the younger officers, turned to gaze after 
the girl. Some of them smiled at the basket which 
Grosjean carried. Others would have smiled at 
Gabrielle had they dared. 

Gabrielle kept her eyes upon the ground and upon 
the river. Her breast fluttered excitedly, but Jean 
was here, and Jean was very strong. Once only she 
lifted her eyes and paused involuntarily. She felt the 
stare that seemed to fasten itself upon her — a bold 
29 


GABRIELLE 


covetous stare that brought the swift blood to her 
^cheeks. 

This young man, Yimont, had approached unno- 
ticed, drawing nearer step by step along a path which 
intersected the levee some few paces ahead of them. 
There he stopped, and as Grosjean looked the other 
way Yimont raised his hand audaciously in the act of 
making Gabrielle a bow. 

She thought it must be some friend of her father^ s 
and had almost nodded, but Jean passed the man 
without seeing him. 

Something glittered in Yimont’ s eyes — a something 
which Gabrielle had never seen before, something she 
did not understand. She felt queerly j it frightened 
her. She clutched her father’s arm and hurried by. 

Yimont stood like a stag at gaze until his friend 
Grimaud caught him by the shoulder. 

^‘By the nine gods!” laughed Yimont; ‘^yonder 
girl and her burly guardian make a man of two minds 
— whether to follow her or no.” 

“Come away,” whispered Grimaud, tugging at his 
elbow; “you’ve had a fool’s luck already that Gros- 
jean did not see you. He’d make you of one mind, 
and that right joyfully.” 

Yimont glanced at Grimaud and instantly back 
again, grudging the space it took his eyes from 
Gabrielle. 

“Correction girl or casket girl?” he inquired. 
“Correction,! wager. ’Twould be a God’s pity for 
women like her to bother their pretty heads with 
paters and penitential psalms.” 

“ Shut your mouth. Are you weary of the earth ? ” 
Grimaud drew him forcibly away, down the levee’s 
30 


OUT OF THE CONVENT 


side. That’s her father, Grosjean — Grosjean, I tell 
you. Don’t stand here gaping j she’s been married 
these fifteen years.” 

Married? Fifteen years? Imp of Ananias, 
fifteen years ago that pretty babe was in her cradle.” 

^^True enough,” Grimaud answered stolidly j “ in 
her cradle she might have been, but married she 
surely was to the Chevalier de Tonnay.” 

Where is he now ? ” 

^^In France, making his fortune. He has never 
returned.” 

Yimont’s lip curled. What’s wrong with him? 
Crazy?” He tapped his forehead incredulously, and 
watched the distant fiuttering of Gabrielle’s skirt. 
^^WTiat other fortune could he want? Had I such 
fortune as that I’d swim the seas. Gad ! saw you 
ever such a figure, and such coloring?” 

Yimont stood with arms akimbo comparing the 
bulky form of Grosjean with the daintiness of the girl 
beside him. Yes,” he assented, weighing the good 
and evil of the sight ; ^Hhe watch-dog is a matter to 
be considered. Wlien did that bit of Sevres come to 
this camp of tin-pails and soup-kettles? ” 

^^Born here,” Grimaud answered with more assur- 
ance, for Grosjean was far beyond hearing. Yimont 
shrugged his shoulders. 

Queer I have not seen her — and I here one week 
this day. Yimont a sluggard ! Ugh ! But this sun 
does sap one’s energy. Wkere has she been ? ” 

Grimaud pointed to the convent. Yimont laughed : 
^‘That accounts for it. I shall begin my novitiate 
to-morrow. That fence is not over-high.” 

Gabrielle hastened on, her gaze bent upon the path. 

31 


GABRIELLE 


The first tremor of woman- consciousness flooded into 
her cheeks, but she speedily forgot it. 

When father and daughter passed in front of Dumb 
House Gabrielle scarcely gave it a glance j of course 
it was closed, of course it was silent and deserted. 
She looked beyond it to the smaller house next door 
where a curtain flapped from a window as if some 
welcoming hand were reaching out to beckon her. 

Oh Jean ! she whispered j “ I’m so glad.” 

She ran ahead to the door and stepped inside. 

Margot ! Margot ! ” her joyous shouts rang through 
the house ; am come home.” 

“Here, my lady,” a quavering voice replied from 
the upper story, and Gabrielle climbed the stair. 

Old Margot took Gabrielle into her arms and passed 
her fingers — those sensitive eyes of the blind — across 
the girl’s face, lingering over each feature to fix it 
indelibly in her mind. 

“I want to see how you look — at home,” the blind 
woman explained. 

“As if you did not see me yesterday, and the day 
before, and every day since I was born.” 

“Nay, I missed one,” Margot objected. “You 
have your mother’s brow and hair, your mother’s lips 
and throat. But this nose, so straight and high, that 
is your father’s. And your eyes — they are blue, are 
they not, my darling ? ” 

“Yes, blue.” 

“Aye, they should be bluer than the skies of Gas- 
cony and deeper than the sea. Your hair ? ” 

^ ^ Brown, Margot; my hair is brown as you know very 
well. What a precious old goose you are anyway.” 

“ Your color?” 


32 


OUT OF THE CONVENT 


For answer Gabrielle dented a finger into her cheek, 
fiushed with excitement, and a white dimple remained 
to mark the spot. 

I fear my color is very violent when I run in the 
wind.’^ Gabrielle laughed merrily, it seemed so 
comical to be describing oneself. 

^ ^ Y our mother’ s laugh, ’ ’ said Margot . ^ ^ You should 
be proud to be like your mother.” 

Grosjean passed them at the head of the stair, where 
he set down the basket. Then he entered the room 
which had been his wife’s. Presently he returned to 
the door and waited like a restless child. “Hurry 
Gabrielle, here’s a surprise for you.” 

Gabrielle disengaged herself from Margot and fol- 
lowed her father into the quaintly furnished room 
where all things remained precisely as she remembered 
them at the dawn of memory. There was the high 
bed with the stiff curtains, the crook-legged divans, 
and the chairs whereon brocaded shepherdesses 
forever simpered at love-lorn shepherds. 

Gubrielle’s conception of houses and furnishings 
was necessarily meagre, as she had never entered but 
two houses in her life — the convent and this. There- 
fore these rich hangings did not seem grotesque at 
such narrow slits of windows ; to Gabrielle the Gobelin 
tapestries did not look odd upon these prison walls ; 
nor did the vases and ornaments contrast strangely 
with that cumbrous mantel. 

She came tripping across the threshold. There she 
stopped 5 many strange things were in the room, and 
she grew bewildered. 

Bed and chairs and divans were piled with costly 
gowns, with velvets and silks and furs, with laces and 
3 33 


GABRIELLE 


feathers and ribbons — those thousand nameless frip- 
peries that women love. Gabrielle stared, for they 
were things which she had never seen, even in her 
dreams. She gave a little gasp of astonishment and 
gazed as Aladdin gazed upon his castle which the 
lamp -slave had builded in a night. 

Grosjean stood silent at the door with folded arms, 
enjoying her amazement. She went forward step by 
step most cautiously towards the bed and paused, 
afraid to touch these filmy treasures lest they vanish. 
When she turned she asked vaguely, These are — for 
me ? “ Yes, for you,” Grosjean nodded. 

For a long, long while Gabrielle stood beside the bed 
taking up the delicate fabrics one by one. For me,” 
she kept repeating. 

There were shoes exquisitely shapen, and slippers 
softer than the skin of a mole ; there were gloves of 
every color, suited to each. There were fans, and 
hats with plumes, many queer articles of which she 
knew neither the names nor the uses. 

^^For me,” she murmured over and over again as 
if seeking a reason why these bounties of fortune had 
fallen in her lap. 

Had there been a simple leather suit with short 
skirt and fringed leggings wherein she might follow 
her father through the forest, Gabrielle would have 
understood. Had there been a pair of beaded mocca- 
sins, such as Indian women wear, Gabrielle would 
have been delighted with the sign that Grosjean meant 
to take her upon a journey. But these — these — of 
what use could such trappings be ? Why should she 
require them? 

Gabrielle stopped in the midst of all her riches and 
34 


OUT OF THE CONVENT 


a sudden comprehension flashed into her eyes. She 
dropped the cloak — it scorched her. She faced her 
father with quivering lips. “These are not — it is 
not — because ’ ’ 

“Yes, your husband is coming on Le Ducd^Anjou.^^ 

“Then these are 

“Your bridal garments. My daughter must go to 
France as becomes her own rank — and her husband’s.” 

Gabrielle stood perfectly rigid, staring through the 
window at the great river and the wilderness beyond. 
This husband of hers was coming — this impersonal 
being was coming — ^this myth less real than were the 
sculptural saints before whom her prayers were said. 

There were times when Gabrielle dimly recollected 
this marriage of hers — recollected the cold night when 
her father carried her in his arms through a driv- 
ing rain — recollected the little boy who stood beside 
her in front of an altar where there were many, many 
candles ; she recollected an old man who told the boy 
not to be frightened. Gabrielle at times remembered 
this as confusedly as she might have recalled a word 
or two of some Latin prayer without the vaguest 
notion of what it meant. 

Once or twice as a child she had heard the sisters 
talking of it, and with a child’s shrewdness had pre- 
tended not to hear. But as she grew older the sisters 
ceased to talk, and she ceased to think. 

But now this phantom was coming j her fingers 
touched the cloak, it was tangible and real. These 
were her bridal garments, garments of gauze and lace 

and ribbons in which Gabrielle shivered and 

flung herself sobbing into Grosjean’s arms. “Oh 
Jean! Not yet ! ” 


35 


GABRIELLE 


my Gabrielle, are you not pleased 
Grosjean was disappointed, yet gratified. 

She did not answer ; she only cowered in his arms 
like a frightened child. 

Your husband is a gallant gentleman who has won 

much renown in the wars Grosjean ventured, 

thinking to arouse her interest. 

Gabrielle did not heed him. She only cried Jean ! 
Jean ! ’’ and clung to him; I do not want to go away. 
I want to be with you. Only you.^^ 

^ ‘ Do you not want these ? 

take them away. I hate them.’^ 

Grosjean led her from the room, and as he went he 
whispered to Margot, ^^Put them all back in. the 
chest. 

Margot began folding the bridal gowns, the cloaks 
and robes, packing them away in the cedar chest as 
they had come from France. 

^^Her mother was younger when she married, the 
old nurse said ; “but her mother loved. 

When Gabrielle came to the head of the stair she 
caught sight of the basket with her gray skirt tucked 
on top. She laughed nervously, grasped the handle 
and sat beside it on the step. 

“Pd rather have these,’’ she said. 


36 


CHAPTER III 

INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


Early as Gabrielle arose upon the morrow her 
father was before her, for they who live by trap and 
trail must wake betimes and stir themselves. Gros- 
jean’s day had already marched two good hours on its 
road when Gabrielle, disappointed at not surprising 
him in his room, came bounding down the stair. 

What ! my Gabrielle, still in the gray garb of the 
convent? Found you naught more to your liking ?^^ 
Grosjean chided his daughter lovingly, yet with a 
tinge of genuine regret. 

^ There ! There, Jean. ’ ’ She paused upon the bottom 
step like a bird hovering upon a limb, and kissed him. 
“Do not be angry. See the scarlet oleander in my 
hair ; that is for you. I never wore a flower before in 
my life, and this one makes me feel very conscious. 
Mother Louise says we must deck our souls and not 
our bodies. The convent ways are hard to leave aside. 
Never mind, some day I shall put on a flne dress, such 
as a lady wore who came once to the convent. Hurry 
now, you great lazy j here^s Margot calling us to 
breakfast. 

Gabrielle moved down the hall ; Grosjean^ s eyes 
followed her with the double love of father and 
of mother. It startled him that this young woman 
could be his daughter, his little Gabrielle, the babe 
of yesterday. 


37 


GABRIELLE 


Her regular life with the nuns had developed every 
physical perfection, as round and firm as a magnolia 
bud before its petals fiing themselves apart in the 
fulness of maturity. She had grown tall, as slender 
and vigorous as a lithe young panther whose footfalls 
make no sound upon the sward. Grosjean smiled at 
the ease of each unconscious motion, for never savage 
chieftain strode down the trail with shoulders more 
erect and head more proudly poised. The strength of 
her hips held Gabrielle’s body straight ; her slight 
and supple waist was as the God of nature formed it, 
and owed nothing to the craft of staymakers. 

Grosjean shook his head and sighed. ^^In a fort- 
night she will be gone j I cannot keep her here.^^ 
Then he thought of the mighty seas that would roll 
between him and all who bore his name. 

Slowly he followed Gabrielle to the dining-room. 
At the door she turned and from the smile that played 
about her lips, from the light that danced in her eyes, 
Grosjean knew he had lost no child — for as yet no 
woman had been born in the heart of Gabrielle. He 
caught her to him, kissed her and set her down again. 
And Gabrielle did not suspect why he strained her so 
tightly to his breast. 

It had come to the hour of noon. Grosjean was ab- 
sent at the landing-place, where his voyageurs were 
loading a barge for the Natchez settlement. 

During the morning Gabrielle amused herself in 
wandering from room to room, smiling and happy. 
All the inanimate friends of her babyhood were around 
her, and all unchanged. There was the dark old table 
with the grotesque lion’s head at each corner, and the 
38 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


spreading claws inlaid with brass. It gave her the 
same chilly sensation, half of dread, half of desire to 
be friendly with it. 

The same mail-clad knight scowled down from the 
same piece of tapestry, but she feared him not ; he 
was her comrade now. She remembered his brave 
deeds as Jean had related them to her long, long ago. 

From door to door she went j and then there was 
another door, the door to a very little room. When 
she came to that Gabrielle closed her eyes. She was 
quite sure she would know everything in this room, 
the cradle, toys, bits of broken pottery and scraps of 
rubbish which a lonely child gathers in its play. She 
could find them blindfold. Gabrielle shoved the door, 
opened her eyes, and laughed aloud. But the sound 
of her own voice silenced her, as a jest dies in the 
stillness of a sanctuary. Her playthings were tossed 
about as she had left them, covered with fine dust 
as with the veil of illusion. It was the sanctuary of 
Gabrielle’ s vanished babyhood. 

She stepped reverently across the threshold, being 
careful not to tread upon the scattered relics. She 
paused before the tiny cradle which she had never 
occupied. Thoughts came that were far too serious 
to unfold themselves in the sunshine. She turned 
and stole away, closing the door very softly. 

Down the stair she went, through the hall, paused 
at the kitchen to speak with Margot, then ran into 
their little garden at the rear. 

The garden was just as she remembered it, only the 
walls did not seem so incalculably high. As a child 
she used to crane her neck and wonder if the clouds 
did not brush against the top of those walls — and if 
39 


GABRIELLE 


the jagged glass would cut the clouds — and many 
other important things. 

This garden of perhaps fifty paces width was divided 
into little yards for Margot’s fowls, her flowers and 
vegetables ; behind all these was the orchard. 

For a while Gabrielle interested herself with a brood 
of chicks, fluffy little balls that rolled like wads of 
cotton before the wind. 

Violets grew along the southern wall in the shade, 
where stiff white hollyhocks ranged themselves most 
decorously. Gabrielle nodded at them, then stopped 
to train a rose-spray to its support. Some of the roses 
had grown out of recollection j some had died and 
others been replaced. Gabrielle recognized the inter- 
lopers, and resented their presence. 

Luxuriant bananas gathered in the middle of the 
garden, where they caught the full heat of the sun ; 
they had increased from single stalks to great clusters 
higher than the wall. One she pulled down and 
examined the green fruit, no bigger than her fingers, 
which was forming at the top. 

Gabrielle remembered the day when Jean had set 
out the fig-trees. It had been great delight to help 
him work in the garden. Now their branches inter- 
laced and hid the wall j busy jay-birds chattered 
amongst them, anticipating a feast. 

The scuppernong vines against the north wall had 
overrun their arbor, and hung like a trailing cascade 
from every side. 

Gabrielle felt that she must have been absent a long 
while for all of these things to happen. Yet she felt 
no older. Mother Nature, busy with the increasing 
process of multiplication and reproduction, had taught 
40 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


Gabrielle no lesson. She walked slowly to the scup- 
pernong arbor and passed beneath its impenetrable 
roof. 

While she stood half dreaming, hidden by the arbor 
from the house, her eye lighted upon a denser growth 
of vines which hung against the base of the wall. In- 
stantly she remembered something ; she stepped back- 
ward and glanced at every window of the house to 
make sure that no one watched her. There^s nobody 
at home but Margot,’^ she laughed to herself. 

Down on her hands and knees she went, crawled 
underneath the vines, pushed aside their matted 
growth and forced her way along beside the wall. 

“Yes, yes, here it is,’’ she laughed excitedly; “I 
knew it was here.” There was a hole in the wall, hid 
by the vines where no one would suspect it. 

Gabrielle remembered vividly that thrilling day 
when she had discovered this hole. With a wildly 
beating heart she had peered into that forbidden gar- 
den which lay beyond the wall. It was the Dumb 
House garden, deserted by men and peopled by whis- 
pering phantoms. How frightened she had been, how 
cold were her hands, how the twigs fell into her eyes, 
and how the dust choked her. The noise of a scurry- 
ing rabbit had stricken her with fear, but she could 
not turn and run. 

Gabrielle was nineteen now and she had the right to 
be called “ Madame,” yet, looking once more through 
that breach in the wall, she scarcely felt an hour older. 
There was something in the very smell of that garden 
which released her from the shackles of convent disci- 
pline. She was mastered again by the same adventu- 
rous spirit which had borne her onward in that childish 
41 


GABRIELLE 


exploration. Gabrielle shut her eyes and pushed 
blindly through the breach. It was wide enough for 
a child, but exceeding narrow for a woman. It was 
very hot in there, stuffy and dusty, and the dry leaves 
rustled. With her father’s dogged determination she 
forced her way through the wall and came out in a 
thicker tangle of vines beyond. She hid there and 
raised herself erect. Cautiously she parted the vines 
and peered into the garden of mystery. 

Gabrielle’ s first pang of surprise was to find the 
place so small. To her childish eyes it had seemed a 
full day’s journey from one vague boundary to the 
other. It was a journey full of lurking dangers j In- 
dians might be there, or savage beasts, and the little 
girl with Grosjean’s stout heart for an inheritance had 
dared them all. She had made many a foray into that 
wilderness, snatched a rose, stolen a bunch of grapes or 
plundered the fig-trees. Then she would dart back in 
triumph to the hole. Increasing familiarity had bred 
contempt, and the lonely garden became a playground 
for the lonely child. 

Oftentimes while Grosjean was absent in some far 
part of the Province, little Gabrielle would steal away 
from the convent and slip into this garden unknown 
to any one. Here she fought out her own campaigns, 
none the less boldly than did her father, and had her 
own adventures within the secrecy of these walls. 

The thoughts of the garden were never the thoughts 
of the convent. The good sisters would have never 
allowed Gabrielle of the Convent to play with that 
wild-hearted brigand Gabrielle of the Garden. 

Gabrielle, grown to be a woman, pushed aside the 
vines. The same untrammelled imaginings swept 
42 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


over her, with all the sweetness and all the fears. She 
felt the same delicious thrills, the same exciting make- 
believes, the same sense of perfect seclusion. She 
felt the same freedom to do as she pleased in a world 
which was all her own. 

First she glanced towards the rear of the grim house 
whose gallery had formerly frowned upon the flowers. 
A wildering wistaria had covered the gallery and hid 
it from view. Against the green mass she saw here 
and there a belated spray of royal purple. The win- 
dows were tight shut, vines grew across them, and 
pigeons built their nests upon the ledges. Below this 
was a door leading into the garden ; this door had 
always made the child think of a surly old nun who 
never opened her lips, nor ever smiled. It was closed 
now. Beside the walk which ran uselessly to the 
door, on a sundial a gray hare blinked in the sun. 
Gabrielle glanced at the hare, and smiled and turned 
her eyes. Near the center of the garden, on the limb 
of a dead tree, sat a wise black crow — cunningest of 
all children of the sky — he looked down from his 
perch in solemn security. Seeing the hare and see- 
ing the crow, Gabrielle stepped forth from her 
concealment, for neither man nor danger was abroad. 

Gabrielle pushed out of the vines into the sunlight, 
brushing the twigs and leaves from her hair. With a 
caw of surprise the crow flapped heavily away f the 
gray hare tumbled from the dial and scuttled into the 
underbrush. Gabrielle was alone. 

The sun blazed down upon a wilderness — a wilder- 
ness complete. The garden rioted in utter savagery. 
There were box hedges running parallel everywhere, 
sometimes in stiff geometrical lines — sometimes in 
43 


GABRIELLE 


sweeping ovals and graceful curves as men had 
planted them. But the hand of man had been with- 
drawn, and they grew as they listed, long innocent of 
the trimmer’s knife. Weeds gathered defiantly in the 
paths, as a rabble that delights to show its contempt 
for law. 

Summer, voluptuous and languid, ruled the sky, 
where a solitary cloud no bigger than a puff of smoke 
hung motionless. Summer breathed upon a cluster of 
bananas and they waved their leaves above an odor- 
ous cape jessamine, as slave girls wave their fans 
above some drowsy-lidded favorite of the sultan. 

Rosebuds swelled and burst ; rabbits bred in their 
burrows ; oranges hung heavy on their stems j a mock- 
ing bird sang her sweet maternal song and fed her 
nestlings in the pomegranate tree. The air vibrated 
with listless perfumes. All the world throbbed with 
the glowing blood of youth. The breath of Proven5al 
roses suggested tilt and troubadour, and the languor- 
ous love songs of the south. The fathomless sky held 
neither veil nor threat, for Summer, the mother of the 
year, fiung down upon the garden the shimmering 
mantle of her protection. 

Gabrielle threw back her head in the sheer joy of 
living and drew a long, deep breath, sipping at the 
cup of I^ature’s natal mysteries. There was a soul in 
the garden different from the soul of the convent. 
Gabrielle drank deep and wondered at the thrill it 
gave her. 

Much of the shrubbery had grown up like long- 
legged and spindling children. These she did not 
recognize, but the three tall pines were waiting to wel- 
come her. By main strength she tore through the 
44 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


nearest hedge and stood in the overgrown path, where 
the weeds grew higher than her knee. 

Something fluttered out of a bush and fell at her 
feet, a brown thrush with broken wing. The helpless 
creature beat against the ground in front of Gabrielle, 
worming its way between the stalks. She took a step 
or two, thinking to pick it up, then laughed. Ah, 
you sly old thrush, playing your same Crick. Trying 
to lead me from your babies ? Let me have just one 
peep.’^ 

Gabrielle turned and peered into the bush out of 
which the bird had flown. She pressed aside the outer 
branches and, knowing exactly what to look for, she 
spied the nest. There it was, strong without and soft 
inside, with gaping yellow mouths spread open clam- 
oring for food. The mother thrush fluttered frantic- 
ally. Yes,^^ Gabrielle said, rising to her feet ; I’ll 
humor you just to prove what a deceitful old creature 
you are.” 

She followed the bird which, by dint of painful 
effort, seemed barely able to keep beyond her reach. 
But having once gained a safe distance from her nest, 
the brown hypocrite took wing and flew away. 
Gabrielle laughed ; it was the same old stratagem of 
the thrush, but she did not let the bird suspect she 
knew it. 

Passing through the weeds she roused a hare from 
his burrow beneath the hedge. He sprang up, and 
darted off like a flash, then turned and stared at this 
gray-garbed intruder. Gabrielle watched the nervous 
twitching of his nose, and the undecided wonderment 
with which he regarded her. She lifted no hand to 
frighten him, so he hopped away and eyed her from 
45 


GABRIELLE 


a clump of fan palmetto. Gabrielle knew full well 
that there is no making friends with a gray hare, so 
she let him be, and sought not to wean him from his 
wildness. 

Instead she looked about to see if there were any 
white rabbits in the garden. Paul-Marie was very 
fond of them, and the gentle creatures had been the 
little child’s most sociable companions. 

None came to greet her, and she turned her eyes to- 
wards the rear of Dumb House, a thing whereat she 
had always looked in fear. 

It stared back at her, flinty and unsympathetic as 
the face of a cliff. The two small windows above 
the door were blinded by a screen of wistaria, and 
Gabrielle felt easier because those deep-set eyes were 
shut. But she knew that the eye-sockets were behind 
the vines. 

The dumpy columns stood in the same exact row, 
supporting the gallery j the big water-tanks held their 
accustomed positions at the corners. She saw no 
change, and expected none. 

The sun had passed meridian height and slanted 
across the rear of the house, but Gabrielle knew that 
neither chink nor ray of light beat into that deserted 
mansion. ^ ^ Ugh ! ’ ’ she shivered and turned away. 

Gabrielle turned, turned her face gladly towards the 
pines and pressed forward to get free of the weeds. 
Nothing ever grows beneath the pines j nature spreads 
her carpet there, allowing neither bush nor shrub to 
mar it. 

^^Oh!” she thought suddenly, and quickened her 
pace, for here was the most interesting spot in the 
garden — ^the fountain — and she had forgot it. 

4G 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


Gabrielle’s face was radiant when she emerged from 
the weeds and felt the brown cushion of needles which 
yielded its odors to her tread. Beneath the biggest 
pine Gabrielle stopped and shivered — there were many 
things to remember in this garden — for Margot had 
once pointed out the top of this tree and told her it 
was accursed, that Paul- Marie was buried beneath it. 
This was one thing that Gabrielle preferred to forget, 
as she loved to play beside this fountain. 

She seated herself upon a bench which rested 
where the magnolia and the pine took turns at shad- 
ing it. 

^^Oh dear she sighed disappointedly. The boy 
on top of the fountain, who held the cornucopia and 
poured out the water — ^the boy was so very small. 
They had once been famous friends, but now — why 
the boy was still a baby, and Gabrielle had grown. 

Gabrielle threw aside her bonnet and sat down on 
the cemented coping. In the center of an oval basin 
there lay an oval island plumed and crested with a be- 
wildering growth of pampas grasses. At one end of 
the basin a group of willows had stepped in daintily, 
shading the pool and dabbling their slender limbs in 
the water. 

Gabrielle bent over and gazed upon the placid sur- 
face. She gasped ; a woman gazed back at her — a 
woman with sunny hair and blue eyes — a woman 
where she had thought to see a child. Gabrielle turned 
away. Much as she resented changes in her garden, 
she resented more the change that had come upon her- 
self. She shook her head and laughed, but the tone 
was soberer and the face was grave. 

We must all grow old — and some must die,’^ she 
47 


GABRIELLE 


added, looking mournfully at a pecan-tree which had 
been throttled to death by a rattan. 

Gabrielle turned again to that mysterious fountain. 
The pitiless sun had stripped it of illusion. The wil- 
lows had taken root, cracked the coping, and water 
wasted out. Other willows sprang up along the rivu- 
let which trickled through the crevice and wound 
away to the remotest depths of the wilderness. 
Gabrielle shut her eyes to these unwelcome facts and 
let her fancy transform it once again into a magic lake 
where fleets of adventurous magnolia leaves set sail 
for fairy shores. 

Though the basin was shaded in part by the mag- 
nolia and by the willows, the water felt warm as milk 
to her touch. Gabrielle bent over and trailed her 
Angers through it. Tulip-shaped flowers of yellow 
and white and pink lifted their purity up to hers. 
Gold-flsh, like flashing flre-flies, darted to the shelter 
of their lily-pads. In a wide space where there was 
neither lilies nor willows Gabrielle could see the white 
bottom of powdered shells. It seemed scarce the depth 
of her arm. She rolled her sleeve up to the elbow and 
reached down into the water j then she remembered 
that when the basin was at its present height it would 
come just to her chin if she stood up very straight. 
But that was to the chin of a very little girl. 

Across the pool from the coping to the island there 
rested a broken oar, untouched in all the years since 
Gabrielle left it there. A column of marching ants 
were using it for a bridge. It was GabrieUe^s yard- 
stick with which she used to sound the water’s depth. 
How she took it up again and thrust it to the shining 
bottom of the pool. She leaned over, measuring the 
48 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


depth, and caught sight of her own face again. It 
was smudged with dust shaken down upon herself 
in crawling through the vines, and sadly needed 
washing. 

‘‘Gabrielle, you need a scrubbing,’^ she said 
solemnly,- after a moment she added, ^^Why not? 
Why not? 

Standing erect she held the oar beside her slim 
young figure, and the water mark came nearly to her 
shoulders. If she were yet a child the pool would 
have been too deep. 

^ ^ Why not ? ’ ^ she thought. 

The sun shone down with steady heat j warm puffs 
of wind stirred amongst the shiny banana leaves ; the 
water rippled enticingly. 

Why not? thought Gabrielle. 

Instinctively she glanced at the walls — all the way 
around and back again — twenty feet high, shutting 
out the world and letting in a patch of intensely blue 
sky with the dazzling sun in its center. Though walls 
have ears, these walls of Dumb House garden had no 
eyes. 

She threw a questioning look at the house ; it stood 
silent, deserted, stolid, unblinking in the glare. The 
cannas shielded the pool and the willows held a screen 
before it. 

“Why not?’’ thought Gabrielle. 

Controlless nature rose in Gabrielle. Summer beat 
down upon her from the skies, and summer throbbed 
within her breast. The warm clear water caressed her 
fingers j the wind stirred in the pines and whispered 
its temptations. The convent was behind her ; its 
shackles were broken j she was in the garden j she 
4 49 


GABRIELLE 


was free. Droning bees in the honeysuckle buzzed 
the songs of solitude, and a mocking-bird sang from 
the magnolia’s lower branch. A full-cupped blossom 
fell to pieces and dropped its petals into the pool. 
Earth and air and sky were deserted j the languid sun 
looked in lazily and did not care. There was a soul 
in the garden different from the convent, a soul which 
laughed at discipline. 

With a circling glance at walls and house, at trees 
and shrubbery, Gabrielle flung the gray gown from 
her 5 other garments fell aside as outer leaves unfold 
from the milk-white heart of the magnolia. 

For a single instant she stood like a stripped willow 
wand, lithe and graceful, bending above the water, and 
marvelled at the reflection she saw — marvelled and 
flushed, for ’twas not the flgure of a child. The puls- 
ing surface of the pool gave her back a faithful dupli- 
cate — a wavering and trembling duplicate, rosy with 
life. Then with scarcely a splash she disappeared 
into the pool. 

At flrst she gasped and cried out, Ugh ! It’s cold.” 
But she quickly hushed, for one must be very quiet 
in the garden. 

^^Must get used to it,” she said, and reaching down 
she dashed handfuls of diamonds into the air, bending 
to catch the sparkling shower as it fell. 

Mustn’t get my hair wet — takes too long to dry.” 
Gabrielle stood up and bound it tightly in a coil. 
Then she laughed to remember how she used to per- 
suade Margot to cut this hair hideously short, so it 
might tell no tales. 

Gabrielle splashed about, delighted that there were 
no rules in the garden, no bells and no Mother Superior. 

50 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


When she emerged like a renascent Psyche, drip- 
ping and glistening, Gabrielle sat upon the coping 
to dry. A fervid sun poured its heat into the gar- 
den^ s overflowing lap, and encircled her as with a 
robe. Luxurious odors of honeysuckle, jasmine and 
tuberose came like chaste handmaidens to anoint 
their mistress. The lips of the wind kissed her 
ever so softly and the sparkling drops melted from 
her shoulders as dew melts from the whiteness of a 
lily. 

Something stirred in the brush. Gabrielle sprang 
up startled, then laughed merrily at the pair of eyes 
that were gravely regarding her. ^^Oh! it’s you, 
you old rascal ? Did’st never see a girl before? ” She 
held out her hand to an awkward-looking rabbit who 
came hopping from beneath a palmetto. The rabbit 
stopped, his pink eyes fixed upon her, his long ears 
thrown forward half in fear, half in fascinated 
curiosity. 

There now, you need not be so bashful. FU 
bring a cabbage leaf to-morrow and that will make us 
friends quickly enough, I warrant.” Then she moved 
her foot suddenly,' and laughed as the rabbit scuttled 
back to his hiding-place. 

It takes a long while for one to dry in the sun, 
especially if the air be dull and languorous, if the 
flowers be fragrant, and if one be very dreamy. 
Gabrielle reached up idly to the branch above her 
head and broke off a magnolia blossom. One of the 
immaculate petals she spread upon her knee — insen- 
sate petal that felt no thrill. As she stroked and 
smoothed the white petal upon her whiter knee, it 
turned slowly yellow, jealous to find itself less fair. 

51 


GABRIELLE 


She crumpled it and creased it hard until she made 
a dimpling scar in the firm white flesh beneath it. 

Then she thought of her husband and wondered, as 
a girl must needs wonder who has so mythical a pos- 
session. It was very curious : girls had husbands, but 
the sisters had none. It was very puzzling. But 
pshaw ! why should she bother ? Jean could explain 
it all. 

The mocking-bird ceased her chatter ; the rabbit 
stretched himself lazily in the shade ; the wind hushed 
amidst the pines. Nature dozed through the hour of 
her siesta. And Gabrielle dreamily creased the mag- 
nolia petal against her knee. In the drowsy silence 
she forgot where she was and what she did. 

Once she lifted her eyes and glanced along the line 
of the northern wall, following the jagged line of sky. 
Beyond that fathomless sky there lay a forest as 
unmeasured and as mysterious. 

Suddenly something appeared on the crest of the 
wall crossing the sky-line. Gabrielle imagined it was 
a man’s head thrust up and instantly withdrawn. She 
could not move or think or feel ; terror bound her 
fast. A red deluge of consciousness swept over her j 
shame went tingling through her veins. She sprang 
upright and stood erect, dazed and frightened. She 
thought of the man on the levee who had stared at her 
so hard. 

There ! There he is again ! ” Gabrielle gasped, 
snatched a skirt and drew it around her. Then she 
laughed. 

“Oh! It’s a banana leaf flapping in the wind. 
Foolish thing I How you frightened me.” 

But she had had her warning. 

52 


INTO THE GARDEN OF FEAR 


By the magic of a word, a deft touch here and there 
— behold, a gray-robed figure, fully dressed, stood be- 
side the fountain. The rabbit came back, blinking 
and wondering at the change. 

^^Tou couldn’t get a new coat that quickly, could 
you, old fellow ? ” She laughed again, and her cheeks 
were very pink with the excitement. 

Then she stopped and listened, turning her head 
like a doe in the forest. She heard a shout beyond 
the wall, running feet and eager voices. She heard 
the chatter of women, and wondered what it meant. 

Although she knew there was no one in the garden 
Gabrielle departed more hurriedly than she had come, 
and with many a glance behind her. 


53 


CHAPTER IV 

THE COMING OF THE SHIP 


Beyond the wall, beyond the uttermost boundaries 
of the world, as Gabrielle imagined it. Burly Pierre 
and Amador sat in front of their door and smoked — 
what else was there for men to do ? The wind came in 
erratic gusts from the south, off the scented Gulf. 

They saw Grosjean standing alone upon the levee. 
The river behind him burned like a molten caldron, 
the color of a copper moon. The man’s figure sil- 
houetted itself against this background. His arms 
were folded, his lips tight-set, his eyes fixed. His coat 
fiapped impatiently in the wind as if it ill understood 
how such a restless soul could stand there dreaming. 

Amador nudged Pierre and pointed : ’Tis said he 
sees visions.” Pierre shook him off. He liked not 
the idea of other men seeing what was hid from him. 

^ ^ Look at him, ’ ’ Amador persisted. ^ ^ Look at him ; 
he sees something now.” 

Involuntarily the men’s eyes followed Grosjean’ s. 

“Eh bien !” Pierre exclaimed j “of course he sees 
something — can’t you see?” Then up sprang Ama- 
dor, put his hands to his mouth and bellowed across 
the ditches, “A ship ! A ship !” His voice shook 
the frail huts and went clamoring back against the 
forest. 

Without pausing to see the tumult he had raised, 
54 


THE COMING OF THE SHIP 


Amador ruslied down to the levee, climbed to the 
top and ran along it, being careful not to jostle Gros- 
jean. 

His shout had roused the settlement as though a 
stick were poked into an ant-heap. Heads were stuck 
out of huts, and bodies followed, and the chatter of 
women. Men hurried towards the river, coatless and 
hatless, with their weapons or their tools. Excited 
women burst out, tying their aprons round them as 
they ran. By different paths they came, joining at 
the levee, as rivulets that merge and flow onward to 
. the sea. All the humanity of New Orleans swarmed 
towards the landing-place with eyes flxed upon the 
coming ship. 

Whilst Gabrielle had sat and dreamed upon the 
cemented coping of the fountain, she had heard the 
shouts which caused her to flee breathless from the 
garden. But for these shouts she might still have sat 
dreaming beside the fountain, smoothing out a mag- 
nolia leaf upon her knee. She squeezed through the 
breach and hurried to her own front door. 

As Grosjean had charged her to be wary about 
opening this door, Gabrielle went down upon her 
knees and peeped cautiously through the shutters. 

Oh ! There^s Jean,^^ she said to herself; for she 
saw her father standing on the levee. People ran 
past him, turning this way and that upon the narrow 
footway. He stood like a huge bowlder parting the 
torrent. 

“Something has happened! Something has hap- 
pened ! Gabrielle opened the door excitedly. Gros- 
jean did not turn his eyes towards her, but others did 
— many others — every one who passed. She stood 
55 


GABRIELLE 


erect in the doorway, flushed and fluttering from the 
scare that she had had. The crimson burned in her 
cheeks j her eyes danced and scintillated like the 
ripples on the river. She laughed and showed her 
teeth — it was so very comical, that senseless terror of 
a banana leaf. 

Many people, seeing Gabrielle at the door, made bold 
to run past the house, and turned their heads to stare. 
A woman halted so abruptly, with such mute ques- 
tioning, that Gabrielle smiled and held out her hand. 
The woman shook it limply. “ I could not help stop- 
ping,^’ she apologized ; then she wiped her hand on 
her apron and ran on again. Gabrielle laughed. 

Now, out of the medley of voices, she began to 
distinguish a word, even sentences. ^^A ship;” 
“Le Due d’ Anjou;” “The soldiers are coming;” 
“The girls!” Gabrielle comprehended what they 
were saying. 

Gabrielle turned her eyes in the direction these 
shouting people ran. The fair white sails of a ship 
came steadily around the last curve of the river. The 
sun shone gloriously upon her upper canvas, 
crowning the topmost spars with a halo of golden 
light. 

At flrst the girl’s eyes brightened, ’twas so ani- 
mated a scene : these swarming folk seemed so full of 
life, so eagerly expectant. She caught the contagious 
enthusiasm, clapped her hands joyfully, and stepped 
out of the door to the stone threshold below. 

There Gabrielle stopped, stopped with hand uplifted 
and lips apart, for a sudden thought came to her. 
The ship was almost here. It was bringing some- 
thing to each of these people — a new dress — a case of 
56 


THE COMING OF THE SHIP 


wine — orders from tlie king — a wife — something to 
each after his own needs. What would it bring to 
Gabrielle ? 

She gasped and caught the door-facing for sup- 
port. This ship, Le Due d’ Anjou, would bring to her 
a husband, a shadow that walked, a phantom that 
would claim her, and take her away. Her knees 
grew weak *, she leaned against the door-post j thick 
mists blurred her eyes. Gabrielle threw a swift 
glance of appeal towards that white-washed fence 
around the convent. Now she was outside of it, 
beyond its protection ; and the gate was closed. 
Would it open for her? Yes, yes j Mother Louise had 
promised. Then she saw her father on the levee 
beckoning her to join him. 

Gabrielle darted from the doorstep and ran to 
Grosjean. She laid her hand upon his shoulder and 
sheltered herself beneath his arm. It was good for a 
girl to have such a powerful arm to creep beneath. 
Gabrielle felt the grasp which circled her waist. She 
quivered and smiled. In this wise they walked 
without a word towards the landing-place. 

There had never been a perfect confidence between 
this father and daughter for lack of association. 
Indeed Gabrielle had but few desires to confide. And 
Jean was so very busy that she hesitated to talk with 
him of childish thoughts. 

Gabrielle remained a child, though a tropic sun and 
glowing climate had brought her unawares to woman- 
hood. The fulness of her bosom, the curve of her 
limbs, the carmine of her lips, bespoke maturity. 
Yet Gabrielle^ s eyes — round and blue and deep — were 
the eyes of a babe opening upon a new world. 

57 


GABRIELLE 


Gabrielle walked on beside her father and watched 
the coming vessel, drawing back at times and glanc- 
ing towards the convent. Then she clung closer to 
her father, smiled up into his face and followed the 
pressure of his arm. 

Briskly the vessel forged ahead, her canvas tug- 
ging at her spars. Irregular puffs of wind bellied 
her sails and brought her fuUy into view. Gabrielle 
felt a thrill of patriotism when she saw the white 
pennon of France floating from its yards. 

Grosjean removed his cap in deference to the lilies, 
then halted abruptly and looked at the ship again. 

She’s not Le Due d’ Anjou,” he said; “she’s a 
double-decked frigate, and not over forty-two.” 
Gabrielle drew a quick breath and searched her 
father’s face. 

“Then it’s not the ship that’s to bring — bring 
him?” she asked. 

“No. And she’s not the Lorraine of fifty-six ; 
nor the Anne of Austria. The Marly is full- 

rigged ” Father and daughter walked on, then 

stopped decisively. This unknown vessel, little more 
than a mile away, turned straight towards them and 
bowled along merrily. “She’s shortening sail,” said 
Grosjean. 

Almost before the words were uttered square after 
square of canvas fell until scarcely enough remained 
to steady her. With perfect discipline the vessel 
stripped herself, dropped anchor, and a small boat 
shot out from underneath her bows. 

Grosjean and Gabrielle pressed nearer to the land- 
ing-place, where a gabbling crowd had gathered. But 
the ship’s boat, instead of making to the landing, 
68 


THE COMING OF THE SHIP 


headed directly for the nearest point of land. A 
man in captain’s uniform stood upright in the prow ; 
another officer indicated the Government House with 
outstretched finger. The man in the prow nodded. 

The captain sprang ashore before his boat had 
touched, thus outwitting the crowd which came run- 
ning from all directions. He glanced about him, then 
struck the path which led to the Government House. 
A bronzed-faced lieutenant kept his position in the 
boat, and the sailors rested on their oars. It was 
a very business-like proceeding, Without word or 
greeting for any man. 

Before this the arrival of a ship had been occasion 
for general jubilee. The people were surprised. A 
Jesuit priest, lean and tanned, who had lost both ears 
at the Chicasa torture-post, drew away from the 
crowd and accosted the captain. The captain 
inclined his head courteously, but did not pause. 
^^My affair is urgent, good father,” he replied; “I 
pray you give me way.” The priest yielded the path 
and the captain hurried on. 

Then Father Jerome walked to the water’s edge 
and called to those in the boat : “May God be with 
you, my children. What tidings?” he immediately 
inquired of the lieutenant. 

“None that men may tell,” the lieutenant 
answered. “Bear away there!” he ordered the 
colonists who had begun talking to his sailors. These 
sailors did not turn their heads and answered none of 
the thousand questions volleyed at them. 

“May I ask who is your captain?” the priest 
ventured again. 

“Captain Hector Plumeau, Frigate Yercingetorix.” 

59 


GABRIELLE 


After that the lieutenant shut his lips. He had 
said all. When the people gathered, clamorous for 
news, he ordered his men to cast off. In mid-stream, 
beyond the reach of tongue or hand, they waited the 
reappearance of their captain. 

“What vessel. Father Jerome ? inquired Grosjean, 
coming up to the Jesuit, who had drawn back from 
the crowd. 

“The Yercingetorix, a new vessel to these waters. 
The governor has no advices of her arrival. It must 
be an affair of iii^ortance. See how the sailors are 
prevented from speaking with the people.^ ^ 

The Jesuits have no love for secrets, and Father 
Jerome resented this. All of it mattered naught to 
Grosjean. He bent down and whispered to Gabrielle. 
“Fm so glad,^’ she said, and clutched his arm the 
tighter. 

Father Jerome^ s face beamed with kindliness, 
despite his scars and disfigurement. “My little 
Gabrielle,’^ he said ; “how blooms our convent flower 
transplanted to the world ? 

“The world thought Grosjean, and his lip 
curled cynically. But Gabrielle smiled and answered, 
“ I might be homesick if it were not for Jean.'^ 

“Ah well, my dear, when he comes it will be 
different.’’ The old priest chuckled and pointed 
down the river, the direction from which all good 
things came to Louisiana — yea, even a husband for 
Gabrielle. 

Gabrielle looked at him blankly, then glanced at 
her father. The Jesuit strolled away amongst the 
people, listening to their murmurs. 

Amador grumbled aloud, his eyes fixed upon the 
60 


THE COMING OF THE SHIP 


silent officer in the boat. ^^I warrant if I were a 
wench and asked for news, his tongue would wag and 
snap like a flag in the wind.^^ 

“Be of good patience, Amador,’’ counselled the 
priest; “mayhap they come on the king’s affairs, 
and we shall know all in good time.” 

“Yes,” spoke up B’tiste from the Mill; “the 
captain has but now gone to see the governor.” 

Thereupon the group separated, straggling like a 
herd of home-bound cattle towards the Government 
House, hoping to hear the siftings gossip from the 
great which slip through the most carefully guarded 
doors. 

“Come, Gabrielle,” whispered Grosjean tenderly, 
as to a sweetheart ; “let us go home. We shall have 
our supper to ourselves, thank God.” Gabrielle’ s 
thankfulness lay deeper than the lips. She said 
nothing. 


61 


CHAPTER V 

WHAT THE SHIP BROUGHT 


Night settled thickly down, and the fog came. A 
dense cloud, too heavy to hang suspended in the 
skies, fell like molten lead upon the earth. Men 
groped their wa,^ along the river front, and the slug- 
gish mist would scarcely part to let them through. A 
few lights, feeble and smouldering, gasped from un- 
glazed windows. The house where officers gambled 
was brilliantly illuminated, yet even there the gloom 
hung like a pall above their games. 

A steady gleam came from the governor’s study 
and flickered on the river. His door he kept locked, 
and not even his closest counsellor knew what was be- 
ing discussed within. Of a truth the new- arrived 
captain of the Yercingetorix had much to talk about. 
Two lanterns swung fore and aft in the ship’s rig- 
ging, and a confused blur of yellow came wavering 
across the water from her cabin lights. 

In Grosj can’s house there was neither gloom nor 
gayety. One lamp burned on his kitchen mantel, 
another on the table in his hall, and the front door 
stood open to the street. It was very unusual for 
this shining swath to pour out of Grosj can’s door. 
The master was much away, and old Margot needed 
no light to guide her sightless eyes. 

Grosj ean sat on the back porch, leaning his elbow 
in at the kitchen window, smoking and watching 
62 


WHAT THE SHIP BROUGHT 


Gabrielle. The girl played at housewife, helping 
Margot prepare their evening meal. 

She talked little, but ever in turning from the fire 
to the table, from mantel to cupboard and back 
again, she caught her father^ s eye, and smiled. 
For Gabrielle was very happy. 

Grosjean made pretence of gazing out upon the gar- 
den. Through the night and the fog he could see the 
trees, see the ghost-like clump of cape jessamines, 
the bananas, and the vines which another Gabrielle 
had planted. 

Grosjean closed his eyes and listened to the quick 
step of his daughter in the room, the baby who was 
now a woman but did not guess it. He listened to 
the chirping of a cricket in the hedge. Then there 
rose the cry of a screech-owl from the deserted garden 
beyond the wall. Of all cries of wood or field there’s 
none so distressful as the voice of this creature — 
tremulous as a shiver of dread transformed into a 
sound. Grosjean’ s mind went speeding backward. 
Twenty vacant years feU from him, and once again he 
heard the voice of his young wife, who left the splen- 
dor of a court to take her place beside him in the 
wilderness. Through half- closed lids he watched his 
daughter. 

Gabrielle at her father’s insistence had discarded 
the gray gown and wore one of the dresses that had 
come from France. She chose the simplest, one of 
girlish white, with a bit of lavender ribbon to give it 
color. She had twined a passion-flower in her hair, 
wearing it with the innate coquetry of woman — 
whether convent bred or not. 

Grosjean noted this, and it put him in a smiling 
63 


GABRIELLE 


humor ; everything amused him. He smiled at the 
apron which Gabrielle had tied about her waist, 
smiled as she bent over his coffee, and smiled as he 
saw her lift the oven lid to make sure that his 
bread was done. It was all so very like the other 
Gabrielle. Grosjean dozed off into a delicious state of 
semi-consciousness, half dreaming, half awake. 

“Jean! Jean!^^ she called through the window; 
“I vow, Margot, he^s gone to sleep. Get up, lazy; 
supper is ready.’’ 

Jean roused himself, came stumbling round 
through the door and took his seat at the table. 

Gabrielle’ s tongue loosened, and it babbled on, keep- 
ing pace with her hands. The blue Dutch plates 
fell into their places, one — two — three ; cups and 
saucers, one — two — three. “One for Margot,” and 
whether or no she made the nurse sit at the table 
with them. 

Grosjean had scarcely taken his seat when there 
came a knock on the front door, a hesitant, uncertain 
rap. Gabrielle sprang up delightedly: “Oh, let me 
go, let me go; it’s a visitor! We shall have com- 
pany. Do you know, Jean,” she said quite seriously, 
“I have never had a visitor in all my life.” 

“No, dear, it is not a visitor;” Grosjean caught her 
by the hand as she ran into the hall; “I have no 
friend to come and break bread with me. You must 
never go to the door at night.” 

His tread rang sharply on the solid oaken floor, 
echoing through the lower rooms, which were bare of 
hangings and sparse of furniture. Gabrielle followed 
step by step ; when the convent bell used to ring 
it always summoned every eye to every crevice. 

64 


WHAT THE SHIP BROUGHT 


Gabrielle felt very independent, now that she could 
go and look at their visitor without concealment. 

Grosjean opened the door and peered into the dark- 
ness. A man stood there, very erect and stiff — a man 
in uniform — ^the governor's orderly. The orderly 
saluted and handed him a letter. 

Grosjean came back to the kitchen table and spread 
it under the lamp. The letter was very brief; 
Gabrielle read it over his shoulder : 

“Will Grosjean favor me by coming to my 
house at once? The business is urgent, or I 
should not disturb him.” 

Gabrielle could not decipher the signature, so she 
asked, WTio is it from ? 

The governor. 

Mother Louise used to rap me over the knuckles 
for bad penmanship, and I wrote a great deal better 
than that.^’ Gabrielle laughed, yet she looked 
anxiously into her father’s face. Urgent busi- 
ness” in the colony was generally but another name 
for impending peril. Grosjean stroked her hair a 
moment ; then they walked back together through 
the hall to the man in the mist. 

^^You will say to His Excellency that I am 
engaged.” Grosjean spoke tersely. The orderly 
saluted, turned on his heel, and left. 

^^Oh Jean ! You ought not to treat the governor 
so ill.” 

There’s no need for me,” he explained; ^^the 
tribes are quiet as far up as the Yazoo country. 
Beside I thought you wanted me at home with you 
to-night.” 

5 


65 


GABRIELLE 


“ So I did ; so I do. But it was such a polite note.’^ 
he reflected j “you are right. I should 
have returned a more courteous reply. 

The orderly had disappeared, but a whistle from 
Grosjean recalled him. “ I have thought better of it. 
Say to His Excellency that I shall be with him in an 
hour.’^ 

The hour with Gabrielle put Grosjean in kindlier 
mood. He left home and strode towards Government 
House, bidding Gabrielle close the door. The bar fell 
into place, and Grosjean knew that nothing short of a 
battering-ram could force an entrance. 

Grosjean went cheerfully enough to the governor's 
quarters, a low strong-built house of hewn logs, half a 
mile farther down the river. 

The sentry at the door stood aside and Grosjean 
entered without so much as a nod. An orderly in 
the hall opened an inner door, showing Grosjean to a 
room where sat the governor, and a man wearing the 
uniform of a captain in the royal navy. It was the 
same man whom he had seen spring from the boat 
that afternoon. 

The governor hurried to welcome him. “Pardon 
my disturbing you, but I have great need of your 
assistance.” 

“I thought as much,” Grosjean answered senten- 
tiously, in the tone of a man who believes that the 
world never seeks him except to ask a service. 

Captain Plumeau rose courteously j yet was visibly 
annoyed at the delay. When he saw the man who 
had caused this delay, an ordinary courier, Captain 
Plumeau took no pains to conceal his irritation. 

66 


WHAT THE SHIP BROUGHT 


Grosjean met his frown as calmly as he might have 
regarded the petulance of a child. Then Plumeau 
looked at him again. 

The governor greeted the newcomer with double 
deference, — with the consideration accorded to rank, 
and the respect of one brave man for another. At 
first the governor felt uncertain whether he should 
extend his hand, Grosjean being so peculiar. But 
Grosjean smiled, thinking of Gabrielle and the warm 
kitchen at home. 

The governor grasped his hand cordially. am 
glad you are at home, else I should not have known 
what to do. Captain Plumeau, let me present you 
to 

^^Grosjean.^^ His thin lips gave the word with 
emphasis. 

“Grosjean.^’ 

The governor repeated the word mechanically. 
His deference had not been lost upon Captain 
Plumeau, who was disposed at first to think it an 
excellent bit of diplomacy. But when he looked this 
forester straight in the eye, he extended his own 
hand with the consciousness that he received an honor 
rather than conferred one. I am honored, m^sieu,’^ 
he said. 

The governor stepped quickly to the door, and 
locked it. Then he drew three chairs close together 
at the table. beg you be seated he bowed to 
Grosjean, then took his place between the two. 

Grosjean, he began; need not say that I 
never should have disturbed you except upon a 
matter of importance. Neither need I caution you to 
secrecy.’^ 


67 


GABRIELLE 


Grosjean^s weather-beaten face betrayed neither 
surprise nor curiosity. 

^ ^ Captain Plumeau,’^ the governor explained, ^^has 
just arrived from France in the Yercingetorix. He 
informs me that I am to be the host of a noble guest 
sent hither by the king.’^ 

The governor trod upon ground most delicate ; he 
watched the perfectly impassive face before him and 
could not hazard a guess as to what this man was 
thinking. 

^^My orders,^’ he continued, ^^are to conceal this 
guest in the colony, to show him distinguished honor, 
but to let him see no one. Above all, I am to let no 
one see him. Am I right, captain?’^ 

Plumeau nodded. 

^^As you can well imagine, the governor went 
on, somewhat chilled by Grosjean’s apathy, ^^he is 
a guest for whom I am at a loss to provide fit- 
ting quarters. The Dumb House being unoccupied 
I thought — I thought perhaps — The governor 
stopped. 

Grosjean sat drumming on the table, drumming the 
long rattle of the call to quarters. He stared straight 
ahead. Captain Plumeau mistook his silence and 
suggested, He will pay royally. 

Grosjean hurled a glance at the man which smote 
him full in the face and silenced him. The eager 
captain realized that he had made a mistake. 

The governor made all speed to relieve this tension : 
“ It is a guest of the king ; I thought perhaps ’’ 

Grosjean rose abruptly and struck the table with 
his clenched fist. He struggled to control himself. 
‘^Your Excellency — Your Excellency forgets the 
68 


WHAT THE SHIP BROUGHT 


terms upon which I came to this colony. Let the 
king provide for his own guest ; let him hide his out- 
casts where he pleases — but not in my house. I owe 
naught of love or service to the King of France. Let 
him conceal his midnight orgies, and shelter the low- 
lived ministers of his pleasures beneath the roofs of 
other men. My house is vacant, yes, but I^d tear it 
down brick by brick before any companion of that 
debauched king should sleep within it.^’ Grosjean^s 
black eyes sparkled ; he checked himself, and curbed 
his volcanic passions. 

Plumeau sprang to his feet with flaming face. The 
governor arose and laid a hand upon the captain^ s 
arm. Grosjean fronted them both. Monsieur le 
Governor, he said, ^^and you. Captain Plumeau, I 
mean not to be curt. Your pardon, gentlemen. We 
speak plainly in these woods. I owe the king no 
love, and shall render him no service. I am a 
Frenchman, loyal in all things except to the person 
of the — the king. Out of consideration for you 
gentlemen, I shall call him simply Hhe king.^ 

There was somewhat in Grosjean^ s face of suffering 
and sorrow which changed the thought of Plumeau. 
And there was something else in Grosjean’ s face 
which would have made the most reckless man 
consider twice before attacking him. 

^‘M’sieu,” Plumeau spoke in conciliatory phrase, 
‘ ^ I fear our good governor has not made you under- 
stand. The man who is on my ship is no common 
refugee. Neither does he run away from the scandal 
of a low intrigue. It would be no personal service to 
the king to shelter him, but a service to all humanity. 

He is an oppressed and banished man ” 

69 


GABRIELLE 


Plumeau glanced at the governor j the governor read 
his inquiry and nodded — yes, he could trust Grosjean. 

^‘This man,’^ Plumeau continued earnestly, ‘Gs 
Prince Murad of Turkey, brother to the sultan. He 
was cast into prison by the tyrant and condemned to 
death, but escaped to France. The sultan demanded 
his surrender of our government. The king desired 
not to offend his ally, yet was unwilling for the prince 
to be murdered. So he replied that Prince Murad 
had fled to Louisiana, beyond the limits of the world. 
And straightway I was commissioned to convey him 
hither with all speed. 

Grosjean wavered ; Plumeau pressed his point 
with blunt eloquence: Since the knightly Saladin 

there has been no prince of the East before whom the 
people bow with such reverence. This youth has 
astounded gray-haired generals by the wisdom of his 
counsels, and fired the enthusiasm of thousands by 
the headlong daring of his personal exploits. For- 
merly he ontrivalled Cleopatra in his pleasures j then 
of a sudden he turned from licentiousness, closed his 
gardens, and freed his dancing-girls. He gathered 
authors, poets and philosophers about him and 
debated with them of their learning. For years he 
has travelled in far countries. I warrant he speaks 
French more purely than you or I — and other tongues 
as well. ’Twas public jest in Paris the manner in 
which grand ladies besieged him. But he let them 
all alone, and men considered him a great fool. Think 
of it — ^he is not yet thirty.’’ 

Plumeau spoke with the rush of him whose heart 
is in his words. Grosjean halted midway between 
the table and the door. 


70 


WHAT THE SHIP BROUGHT 


Plumeau struck again, straight and truly : ^^M’sieu 
— M’sieu Grosjean, I love this boy/^ he said ; ^^and I 
beseech you to give him asylum. If you could but 
see him — ^fairer than a woman, and gentler — marked 
for murder ’ ^ 

Grosjean turned and held out his hand : Captain, 
you are a brave man and an unselfish friend. I 
thank you for teaching me my duty. My house and 

myself are at your service. But his voice rose ; 

^^but. Captain Plumeau, you may tell your King 
Louis for me — say Grosjean, and he will know — ^tell 
your King Louis that I had liefer shelter the brother 
who could hurl him from his throne. When shall I 
receive your friend ? ’ ’ 

To-night, at once,^^ Plumeau answered. 

‘^The house shall be ready, said Grosjean. 


CHAPTER VI 

THE HOUSING OF MURAD 


It had come to the darkest hour of the night. The 
stars grew weary of their efforts to shine upon the 
earth. One by one these patient watchers of the sky 
had been stifled by a triumphant fog. The ship^s 
lanterns had long since ceased to send their struggling 
rays towards the shore. 

The governor had arranged that Prince Murad 
should be brought ashore during the dead hour of the 
morning. With great care he selected a sentry who 
would not babble, and Captain Plumeau adopted like 
precaution with his crew. None of them were given 
shore leave, no colonials were allowed to board the ves- 
sel, and not the slightest gossip was permitted between 
townsfolk and sailors. Precisely at three of the clock 
the governor, Grosjean, and two trusted officers gained 
a projecting point opposite Dumb House where wil- 
lows grew at the water’s edge. This had been agreed 
upon with Captain Plumeau as a convenient spot for 
landing. He could not mistake the place, for the 
mountainous bulk of the house loomed up behind it. 

“ Here ! ” said Grosjean. The outlines of four men 
slunk into the clump of willows that came close to the 
water. None spoke. They knew what they had to do 
and there was no need for speech. Grosjean’ s ears 
were keenest. Presently he lifted a warning hand; 

72 


THE HOUSING OF MURAD 


yes, it was a boat, muffled and cautious, but the lap- 
lap-lap-lap of the waves against her sides could be 
detected by the acute senses of a woodsman. The 
boats — there were six of them — showed no light. The 
waiting party carried none, and not a glimmer came 
from that sepulchral pile to which the stranger would 
be taken. Grosjean stood in utter silence, waiting • 
his head was bent forward, his ears and eyes intent 
upon what should be belched up by the fog. Before 
any of the others saw or heard, Grosjean made a little 
movement of satisfaction. They were coming, a boat 
— two boats — four — five — six boats. Grosjean reached 
out and caught the foremost prow, and held it fast to 
the beach as Captain Plumeau sprang ashore. The 
other boats came to rest, and skilful hands prevented 
any scraping or bumping that would make a noise. 

Six boats were necessary,^’ the captain explained 
in a whisper 5 he carries much baggage and I thought 
it wise to land everything at once.^^ 

Grosjean glanced at the heavy-laden boats. ^^For 
two men,” he thought. He would have carried on 
a year’s campaign with a hundred men on far less 
equipment. He said nothing. 

Plumeau turned to his boat and drew another man 
to shore, a man of whom Grosjean could only see that 
he wore flowing garments, a turban, was slightly built, 
and moved with the elasticity of unconquerable 
youth. As this man stepped from the boat Captain 
Plumeau took Grosjean’ s hand and passed it through 
the stranger’s arm. Your host,” he said to the new- 
comer 5 ^^and this is Prince Murad,” he whispered 
further. Grosjean felt the young man smile ; he saw 
the gleam of his teeth in the darkness — but the smile 
73 


GABRIELLE 


he felt. “Here is our good governor,’^ spoke the 
captain. Murad extended his hand to each in turn. 

“God’s peace be on you, gentlemen,” he said most 
gravely j “ I am a stranger.” 

There was something marvellously magnetic in the 
young man’s voice, but the governor gave no time for 
useless courtesies. “ Let us get him into the house at 
once,” he suggested in a whisper to Grosjean. 

Plumeau pressed the unloading with all haste. 
Four sailors in the second boat dumped their cargo 
ashore without an order or a comment. There were 
two chests in that boat. The captain assigned two 
men to each and pointed them to Dumb House. 

From the other boats a great assortment of queer 
packages was heaped upon the river-bank — chests 
large and small, heavy and light — bales of most 
unwieldy shape, ingeniously bound with rope — 
boxes — a multitude of parcels. In the briefest space 
the boats were emptied and the levee was strewn with 
curious equipage. No wonder Grosjean shrugged 
his shoulders and glanced at the two men whose 
needs demanded such impedimenta. But here it was ; 
it needed no argument. It must be housed, and 
promptly. 

The governor touched one of his officers on the arm : 
“ Come, catch hold,” he said, and himself set the 
example of laying his own hands to the work. The 
two gentlemen, unused to such labor, staggered 
beneath their burden, which was a chest weighted out 
of all proportion to its bulk. 

Imitating their governor, the others seized bales, 
boxes, chests, whatever lay nearest, and bore them 
noiselessly towards that huge shadow in which they 
74 


THE HOUSING OF MURAD 


were to be entombed. One man alone walked unbent 
and unencumbered — the man whose arm Grosjean had 
taken. 

As Grosjean turned from the river with his guest 
he reached to the ground, picked up a bale of stuff 
and swung it to his shoulder as if it were a bundle of 
straw. Then he guided the prince’s steps towards 
that forbidding mansion — evil-omened and repellant 
— which was to be his hiding-place. 

At his master’s heels, dumb as a dog, trudged 
another man in foreign garb, bending double beneath 
the weight of a square box, although it was much 
smaller than any of the other boxes. This man had 
searched every boat more swiftly than a terrier, and 
looked about the landing-place with eyes close to the 
ground, assuring himself that nothing had been for- 
gotten. He was last of all to leave, retaining jealous 
possession of this box. 

There were near thirty men in all, and they moved 
like a spectral pack-train across the hundred paces of 
open ground, then halted in denser gloom beneath the 
eaves of Dumb House. Grosjean led them straight to 
the door unerringly as the bat strikes the mouth of its 
cave at night. He laid his hand upon the oaken 
barrier. It swung open ; a gust of chill air rushed 
out. Grosjean deposited his bale, then drew the 
foreigners within the door, and led them to the rear 
of what seemed to be a wide hall. The governor, 
panting from his unusual exertion, put down his 
burden beside the door. 

Grosjean returned to the front and beckoned Cap- 
tain Plumeau : Here, inside.” That silent hallway 

echoed with the tread of feet, the dragging of chests, 
75 


GABRIELLE 


the clattering of boxes, and the dull fall of bales upon 
the floor. 

^^Put everything down. There, is that all? I 
had best stow them away myself. Grosjean spoke 
briefly. When this was done he had but one other 
word for sailors, officers, and governor — 

Three men vanished in the direction of Government 
House — ^the governor and two officers. ^^IJgh!^^ 
shuddered De Luc j “I’m glad that’s done. Ghastly 
business. It’s like shoving a man into the catacombs 
and walling him up. I do not know what he has run 
away from, but it cannot be worse than what he’s 
come to. Did you feel the cold? ” 

Yimont’s teeth chattered to recollect it. The gov- 
ernor said nothing. 

As the sailors in each boat returned to the levee 
they departed for their ship with muffied oars. Their 
orders were most explicit. One crew remained — the 
captain’s. “Wait me there,” he pointed, and they 
melted into the fog beneath the willows. 

Farewells had been said aboard the ship, yet Prince 
Murad detained the captain by catching his arm. He 
took a signet-ring from his finger and slipped it on 
the other man’s. “Take this, my friend,” he whis- 
pered. The sea-fighter bent his knee and kissed the 
prince’s hand. 

Murad produced a heavy bag from beneath his robe 
and extended it to Plumeau. In the darkness it fell to 
the threshold, and the jingle was unmistakably that 
of gold. Plumeau drew back. Murad bent over and 
picked it up. Dark as it was, Plumeau saw the gentle 
smile with which the prince offered it again. “For 
your brave fellows,” he insisted, inclining his head 
76 


THE HOUSING OF MURAD 


towards the men at the boat. ^ ^ My friend shall only 
have my gratitude, and my ring j both of little worth.’ ’ 

Plumeau bowed low again, took the bag and van- 
ished, his figure being gulped up in the fog before he 
reached the boat. There was the rasp of an oar 
hurriedly fitted to its lock — a splash. They were 
gone. A darker blot on the gloom passed away like a 
phantom, lost in the nothingness whence it came. 

Grosjean touched the princely stranger on the arm, 
drew him across the threshold, and closed that pon- 
derous door. The Dumb House, the shadow of the 
willows, the river-bank, all were very still again. 
The housing of Murad had been accomplished. 

In the thick darkness of Dumb House hall the 
eastern strangers stood, robed and draped and tur- 
baned, their arms folded — immobile as monuments. 
They heard Grosjean feeling his way along the wall ; 
he opened an inner cavity and shut it. A chill blast 
rushed out j a bat fiapped through and beat against 
the ceiling. Presently the strangers saw a tiny chink 
of light come creeping beneath the door. The chink 
broadened ,* a pallor overspread the fioor that durst 
not come as far as their feet. The door opened wide 
and Grosjean reappeared, shading a candle with his 
hand. He beckoned them — ^ ^ Come. ’ ’ 

The candle’s fiame bent this way and that to dodge 
the insidious draughts which slunk like spectres 
through those long-unopened rooms. 

Prince Murad held himself erect, and a pace behind 
him stood his slave brother, Selim, no less composed 
than he. Selim was of his brother’s build and height, 
but somewhat darker, being the son of a desert- woman. 
With steady eyes they glanced around them. 

77 


GABRIELLE 


They stood in a vaulted hallway uncomfortably like 
that prison- corridor from which Murad had escaped. 
The walls were of brick, roughly cemented, and em- 
broidered with a myriad spider-webs. Four chairs 
backed manfully against the wall, and the candle set 
their sturdy legs in a grave dance upon the floor. 
The black shadow of Grosjean^s hand hung down 
from the ceiling, threatening them like a malicious 
genius. 

On one of the chairs lay a man’s hat — Paul- 
Marie’ s — where it had been flung by its careless 
owner. It was covered with the dust of years. Stout 
wooden pegs driven in the walls sustained their 
weight of muskets, powder-horns, and rifles. But no 
man touched them. They were rusted red and the 
spider made his lair amongst the locks. 

A long gray cloak swung above the hat and rustled 
when the gust caught it. It seemed to writhe as its 
master might have writhed in his unhallowed grave. 
With the candle-light behind it. Prince Murad could 
see the cloak dangling in tatters, riddled by moths, 
and mottled with mould. 

It was the house of accursed death, shut to the 
chatter of children, forbid to the smiles of women, 
barred to the sunshine of God. Prince Murad looked 
straight at Grosjean, the man who was master of such 
a place in such a land. 

The yellow glare fell on Grosjean’ s face in patches, 
lighting his breadth of brow, tipping his thin nose, 
and sparkling in his beard. His other cheek lay hid 
beneath a mountain of shadow. Back of him yawned 
a region of pitchy darkness, vague, indeterminate, 
unknown. It might have been a lady’s chamber, or a 
78 


THE HOUSING OF MURAD 


charnel-house, or a limitless abyss. Grosjean stood in 
the midst of a murky glow and motioned them to come. 

Murad hesitated, and in that moment the East and 
the West came face to face. The Oriental devotee 
confronted the Pioneer. 

Grosjean saw a smooth-faced youth, a mere strip- 
ling, lithe and upright as a young reed. He saw the 
whitest of foreheads, a skin surprisingly fair for one 
of the Orient — the heritage of Murad^s Venetian 
mother. Murad’s twisted turban bore no ornament, 
except a plume of white heron’s feather — the badge 
of the ancient chiefs of Usbek Tartary. His garments 
were simple, yet of exceeding fineness, and sug- 
gested the muscular symmetry of his limbs. The chin 
was tender as a girl’s, yet strong, and his lips revealed 
the dazzling whiteness of his teeth. 

One foot he had advanced a little way ; it showed 
beneath his robe and marked his calm possession of 
the ground he occupied. 

The candle’s tortured fiame grew steadier, and 
lengthened into the form of a graceful woman. 
Then, as if obeying some secret impulse, it bent 
towards Murad as a worshipper bends who kisses 
the earth before its king. Every ray of its light, 
every spark of its adoration went forth to center in a 
wondrous star which glittered on Murad’s breast. 

Never had Grosjean beheld such a jewel, wider 
than his palm. Like a handful of living planets it 
seemed, crushed into a mass of writhing fiames. All 
of this Grosjean saw at a glance and connected it with 
Plumeau’s history of the exila 

Grosj can’s wavering gaze came back and rested upon 
the other’s eyes. Instantly Grosjean forgot the dress, 
79 


GABRIELLE 


the fold of his garment, forgot the star — forgot every- 
thing except the compelling power of the man’s eyes. 
They were the eyes of the East, the mystic, the 
esoteric, the unfathomable East. Grosjean felt their 
peculiar spell — as something he could feel, but could 
not understand. 

Murad’s eyes were full of dreams, full of purpose, 
full of thoughts beyond his youth ; they held the win- 
nowed wisdom of uncounted centuries. The fatalism 
of the East was there, the prophetic vision of earth’s 
most ancient people. 

Eor that single instant the men stood face to face. 
^^Come,” said Grosjean, and his voice borrowed a 
reverence from his thought. 

Prince Murad obeyed with simple dignity. Selim 
the silent slipped along at his heels. 

The room through which Grosjean led them had 
been intended for a soldier’s ward-room in times of 
danger. Grosjean halted in the corner and held the 
candle high, lighting his guests through a narrow 
door and up a winding stair. 

The room above was measurably clean. Grosjean 
had swept it with his own hand. He set the candle 
down upon a ponderous table, and with a nod indi- 
cated two cots. They must serve for the night.” 

Murad smiled, a smile so sweet and gentle that 
Grosjean looked in wonderment. It was the smile of 
youth, the cheery nod of a boy — ^he was nothing but a 
boy, after all. 

Grosjean laughed and felt at ease. ^^You shall 
camp here for the night,” he said, and was minded to 
put his arm about the homeless lad, driven hither as 
he himself had been. 


80 


THE HOUSING OF MURAD 


Murad, who read the other’s thought, held out his 
hand. “ I thank you for your shelter and your cour- 
tesy, M’sieu — M’sieu ” 

^ ^ Grosj ean. ’ ’ Grosj ean supplied the name stammer- 
ingly, as a school-boy answers to his lesson. 

Grosj ean,” Murad repeated the word; ^^Gros, 
great, huge, large, big Jean ; Big Jean. And you, you 
are called only Big Jean? ” 

Grosj ean felt guilty, sure that this slip of a lad had 
detected his pretence. Murad shrugged his shoulders 
in comical imitation of the French. 

Grosj ean turned to the rear window and unbarred a 
shutter. This window looks out upon a garden. It 
was once a very beautiful place.” He spoke jerkily, 
tugging the while at those rusted fastenings and 
spending his strength upon shutters which had long 
forgot that they were formed to open. A rank growth 
of wistaria outside held them fast, and creeping ten- 
tacles entered at every crevice. By main force he 
wrenched loose the vines, and the garden lay before 
them, heavy with mist, as though it were a rug of 
clouds spread over mountain peaks. 

It is much neglected ; no one enters it. You may 
take exercise without fear. One needs a garden in hot 
climates ” 

Murad noted a star which was for a moment visible ; 
it told him the night was far advanced. The fore- 
dawn hour approached. 

Selim knew his meaning and disappeared down the 
stair. Speedily he returned with a bale of goods, 
knelt, undid the fastenings, and the stiff rugs unrolled 
themselves across the floor. 

One of these rugs Selim unrolled most reverently, 
6 81 


GABRIELLE 


taking the utmost precaution lest he tread upon it. 
He turned in doubt to Murad. The prince took 
deliberate observation of the star, then directed Selim 
to spread the rug in such wise that a worshipper 
standing upon it would face the sacred shrine of 
Mecca. Grosjean bowed himself from the room, 
leaving the Moslems to their devotions. 

Once outside the door, Grosjean found himself 
standing in the shadow of the Dumb House, gazing at 
the river, thinking of what had happened. Slowly he 
walked to his own house. 

^^Jean! Oh Jean! Gabrielle called to him from 
the head of the stair ; “ I missed you from your room. 
I was afraid. Where did you go ? ” 

^ ^ I went out — to see the governor ; we were engaged 
for a long time.’^ 

“ It is very late.^^ She came half-way down the 
stair to meet him, slim and white and frightened. 

^^Yes, it is latej you must get yourself to bed 
again. There ! There ! 

Two kisses, and another, then Grosjean took the 
white-robed figure in his arms and carried her up 
the stair, leaving her go at the door to her own room. 


82 


CHAPTER VII 

THE SON OF THE STAR 


On the slopes of far Japan a brilliant sun arose, 
and round the middle of the earth he cast a strip of 
glittering carpet for the Sultan of the Skies to tread 
upon. Whirling above the plains of China’s Yellow 
River, he reddened the mountains of India, rent the 
mists that shelter Cashmere’s peaceful vale, poured 
upon the Kurd and his flocks, and tipped the Caliph’s 
turrets in the fabled city of Bagdad. 

Westward he rushed, girdling the earth’s hot loins 
'with a clout of Are. With a dazzling lance of light 
he struck a castled prison which clung to a cliff above 
the Tigris, darted across Mesopotamia, and blinding 
day burst into Stamboul — city of Myth and Mosque 
and Murder. 

Having looked upon the dungeon and the capital 
of Murad, Prince of Turkey, the sun sent a timid 
messenger to creep through the grated window of 
Dumb House and nestle at Murad’s feet. 

The room was bare and void, without curtain or 
carpet, without garment of any kind to hide its 
nakedness — nothing to soften the harsh right- angles 
of flreplace and casement. Against the western wall 
there stood a cot which Selim had converted into a 
couch for his royal brother. 

Beside this couch Selim had spread his richest rug, 
83 


GABRIELLE 


a marvel of weaving, adorned with threads of gold 
wherein the glory of the sun did blend with milder 
shimmer of the moon. And perchance a star — one, 
two or three — shone fair upon the bosom of an azure 
sky. The rug was from a mystic loom, fashioned by 
wonder-workers of the East. The ceiling frowned 
grimly upon that pulsing ray, yet it nestled there and 
lighted the rug with beauty. 

Filmy stuffs from Persia draped the prince’s bed, 
and Selim had raised a canopy above him. 

The unwearied slave crouched upon the floor and 
with gentle palms kneaded his master’s feet softly and 
soothingly, a custom amongst his desert tribesmen 
which WOOS the sweetest sleep. To him the hours 
had been long ; but Murad slept. 

The spot of light upon the rug grew broader. It 
was the foredawn hour. With a pressure of his hand 
Selim waked the sleeper. Son of the Star, awake ! ” 
Selim stood before him with uplifted arms. Murad 
opened his eyes, and rose. Selim cast a robe of 
coarse dark cloth about the other’s shoulders. It was 
the hour for prayer, and he covered his prince with 
the garment of abasement in which the devotee 
approaches God. 

Though the sun had not arisen, a stronger light 
came through the window and fell athwart the rug. 
Murad stepped upon it reverently. ^^In this lati- 
tude,” he said, ’tis slightly south of the sun.” He 
turned his face unerringly to Mecca, and composed 
his heart to adoration. First he looked to Selim for 
water wherewith to purify himself. Selim answered 
by holding out his empty hands. 

Murad well knew the law. He bent low and 
84 


THE SON OF THE STAR 


touclied the floor with his finger tips, taking up 
somewhat of fine sand, which in emergency would 
serve in place of water. With a few swift move- 
ments about his face and hands he made the ablutions 
of his religion, and stood cleansed of contamination 
according to the Koran. 

“Praise be to God,’^ he murmured ; “the Lord of 
all creatures ; the Most Merciful, the King of the Day 
of Judgment 

Hearing those familiar words, the first chapter of 
the Koran, Selim turned aside until Murad had 
completed his foredawn devotions. 

The morning morrowed. Their simple prayers 
were done, the confession of their faith devoutly 
made. Selim began robing his brother for the day in 
a tunic of purest white wool, with vestments of silk 
and a cord of braided gold about his middle. 

Then he took from the head of the couch, where it 
had reposed in a casket of gold, the star which was 
Murad^s personal insignia, the oriflamme which 
always blazed upon his turban in the forefront of the 
battle. This Selim kissed most reverently, kneel- 
ing the while. Then he hung it round his brother's 
neck. 

Murad laughed and talked, making jest of their 
evil case, quoting from the royal poet : 

“ ‘Cup-bearer, bring here again my yestreen’s wine, 

My harp and rebec bring ’ 

“Eh, Selim, the Sultan Murad had a brave heart 
in him, even if he did falter at Stamboul. Let us see 
into what manner of cage destiny hath flung us.’^ 

So saying he walked to the window which Grosjean 
85 


GABRIELLE 


had opened, and looked out upon the shrouded mys- 
tery of the garden. 

The mist slept drunkenly on ground and tree and 
bush, stirring as the breath of morning touched it. 
Grotesque and formless creatures rolled upon the 
earth and climbed each other’s shoulders, as though 
they were phantoms of A1 A^af grasping at the sky. 
One gigantic spectre, a fettered Afrit, stood defiantly 
erect, proud of God’s curse, while humbler ones 
grovelled at his feet. A slowly increasing glow 
invaded the recesses of that garden. The shackled 
Afrit became a tall dark pine, catching on its plumy 
head the glory of the skies. Beyond it stood a bay- 
tree whose blossoms shone like fragments of a 
shattered moon. 

The garden stirred to sensuous life, thrilled by the 
warming of the sun. Jasmines rustled and sent their 
intoxicating odors upward to Murad at the window. 
Chaste magnolias, full-bosomed and white as milk, 
quivered beneath their necklaces of dew. A banana 
clump met the wind’s caress and waved its languid 
leaves as summer sleepers move their limbs. 

Dawn breathed upon the garden. Wild hares 
hopped about in the thickets ,* a cock-partridge fiew 
upon the sun-dial and whistled j Jays began to chatter 
amongst the figs. A white rabbit came awkwardly 
out of the hedge with her spotless youngsters. A 
mocking-bird sang to his mate upon the nest j the 
brown thrush began to feed her clamoring brood. 

Murad smiled to himself and murmured his favor- 
ite passage from the Koran : “ Yerily God will intro- 
duce those who believe and do good works unto 
gardens beneath which rivers run.” 

86 


THE SON OF THE STAR 


The man at the window gazed upon those unvarying 
processes of nature, the mating of kind with kind, the 
sequence of birth, life, death, in immutable rotation. 
Naught was new and naught was old. It was the same 
unbroken circle, without beginning and without end. 

Spread out before him lay that garden, once so stiff 
and precise under the restraints of man, but now 
bridleless and running mad. Its luxuriant beauty 
revelled in the kisses of a passionate sun, showered 
upon a no less ardent and fecund earth. 

Around it ran that wall which shut out every 
prying eye. Here a soul might commune with its 
Creator, surrounded by His works. Murad turned 
backward with a smile and met the eyes of Selim. 

Selim this morning was far graver than his brother. 
A mighty problem had lain like lead upon him since 
they began their flight to barbarous lands. He made 
shift to draw Murad into serious converse, but Murad 
parried every effort, for morn came bright and the 
world was exceeding glad. 

Heed me, Murad Selim confronted the other 
boldly. ^^What is the omen of the stars? Will the 
sultanas decree of death reach you here upon the day 
appointed?’^ There was that of love and anxiety in 
Selim’s eyes which forbade a jesting answer. 

^‘The sultan’s arm is long,” Murad replied soberly 
yet with naught of fear or apprehension. 

^^But,” insisted Selim, ^^we have fled beyond the 
ends of the earth — beyond the Mountain of Caf — and 
eluded him? ” 

Nay j thus saith the prophet : ^ The fate of every 
man have we bound around his neck like a collar 
which he cannot by any means get off.’ ” 

87 


GABRIELLE 


Selim dropped his arms j he could withstand the 
false sultauj and that right joyously, hut not the 
prophet. 

^^And the days are forty-seven,^’ he muttered; 
^^forty-seven.” 

“Aye,” assented Murad ; “’tis forty-seven days to 
the first of the Moon of Safar.” 

Neither spoke, for both knew the dread decree 
which hung upon the rising of the Moon of Safar. 
The month of Safar followed the sacred month of 
Moharrem, during which the prophet had ordained 
that blood might not lawfully be shed. 

“The Moon of Safar will rise whether we wish it 
so or not,” said Murad with a smile most reassuring. 
“We mend nothing by worry. What is not decreed 
shall never trouble thee. Let us abide here these 
forty-seven days in patience.” 

Thereupon Selim began to unpack the bales and 
chests, to lay out their rugs and to clutter the fioor 
with scientific instruments. Murad’s mood craved 
the sweetness of the morning. He made his way out 
of the room and down the winding stair. 

As he supposed, there was a door immediately 
below the window from which he had been gazing. 
He had observed the brick walk leading from what 
should have been a door. The door was barred. Am 
oaken beam rested across it in iron sockets and 
required all his strength to move. This he dislodged, 
removed from the sockets and stood on end in the 
corner. Then he caught the hasp and pulled open 
the door. It creaked loudly, swung inward and 
sucked after it all the odors of the garden as if the 
long-starved house were drinking them. The rank 
88 


THE SON OF THE STAR 


honeysuckle, the powerful tuberose, the succulent 
mignonette, the jasmine — all came trooping in upon 
him. 

Dewdrops glistened on the grasses that choked the 
walk ; diamonds trickled through the valleys of a rose 
above his head j the web of a spider seemed woven of 
silver threads and strung with gems. 

The rabbit he had seen from his window hopped 
away most leisurely and turned to look. Two jays 
put their impertinent heads together and discussed 
him freely. A crow winged hasty flight to the pin- 
nacle of the pine. Murad stepped back, feeling 
himself the stone of discord flung into a quiet pool. 

Where man comes there is no peace,’’ he mur- 
mured j then he waited for the startled creatures to 
be pacified. 

The morn grew. The warm smile of the sky came 
closer. The lure of the garden drew him to it — this 
man who was but a boy and weary of shipboard 
prisonment. 

He picked his way along the path with an air of 
conciliation, with a promise to bird and beast and 
insect — with a pledge to every winged and hairy and 
stinging thing, a guarantee that he would not harm 
them. He assured them all of his desire to become 
their friend and to live in their sequestered solitude. 

Murad trod what once had been a broad white walk, 
covered by broken shells. The boxwood hedges on 
either side disported themselves and sprawled about 
in most unseemly attitudes of abandonment. Every- 
thing did as it pleased in this garden, and therein lay 
the charm. 

Murad passed on, forgetting the jays that scolded, 
89 


GABRIELLE 


tlie cawing crow, the scurrying rabbits. With meas- 
ured pace and impassive features he moved along as a 
man whose mind is otherwhere, seeing nothing — 
thinking, dreaming and planning. Presently he came 
to where the path divided. Chance led him to the 
right. He fared on at hazard and halted beside the 
fountain. He stood very still, studying those crystal 
depths. Not a breeze of the morn came tugging at 
his robe ; not a muscle changed in his face. The fish 
fiashed from pad to pad, then swam boldly out and 
returned the stare he gave them. 

But Murad heeded neither the fish nor the foun- 
tain ; to him the pool was but a reflection of infinite 
spaces above, and upon these his mind was fixed. He 
was not conscious of the moment when the sun first 
peered above that jagged wall, curious to inquire why 
one of its children should be in this land of stranger- 
hood staring so earnestly into a fountain's shallow 
pool. 

Slowly the turban lifted. Murad turned his face 
towards the sun, towards Mecca, towards the ancient 
capital of the Caliphs. Cords of determination drew 
tense about his lips j his teeth set firmly, unquench- 
able fire smouldered in his eyes. Far away, down the 
shining path of the sun, he could see the gilded 
domes, the minarets, the kiosk and the mosque — could 
see the shadow caravans of the faithful, his birthright 
and his heritage. 

“ Allah is mighty, he said. He who vaulted the 
heavens and spread out the earth like a carpet, has 
given me this garden for a world — until the first of 
the Moon of Safar. And yon wall, like the Mountain 
of Caf, shall encompass it about. He glanced about 
90 


THE SON OF THE STAR 


him and smiled at the narrow boundaries of his world 
— he who had so nearly grasped the Empire of 
Mahomet, the Yice-Gerency of God on Earth. Yet 
Twas a pleasant spot, grown suddenly brilliant and 
laughing beneath the sun, like an over-happy woman 
at her lover^s caresses. The hot kisses of the sun fell 
upon the garden, passionate, glowing, uncounted. 

Gabrielle’s broken oar lay across the coping of the 
fountain. Like a meddlesome boy Murad lifted it 
and sounded the water’s depth. With useless exacti- 
tude he replaced the oar precisely as he had found it. 
Then the bench beneath the pine attracted him and 
thitherward he walked. 

Murad stopped and looked fixedly at the foot of the 
pine as if he saw something quite familiar. Bewilder- 
ment gathered on his face, doubt which did not clear. 
From the pine his gaze wandered uneasily about the 
garden. 

‘^Surely,” he said, have seen this tree before, 
and that clear spot where the sunlight falls. But no, 
never have I set foot within this garden.” He took a 
seat upon the bench and tried to reason out the odd 
vagary of his mind which led him to imagine he had 
seen this spot before. Upon his mind was the firm 
impression that he had seen his own gravestone here, 
the plate of brass in that open space where the sun- 
shine fell. He did see it, and he saw it plainly. 

must have dreamed of such a place and forgot- 
ten it.” Murad was dissatisfied; every time he 
looked at this open place the same puzzled expres- 
sion clouded his brow. Finally the persistent folly of 
his thought irritated him ; he rose and retraced his 
slow steps towards the house. 

91 


GABRIELLE 


The branch of a pomegranate reached out across his 
path. He brushed against it and a queerly tinted 
flower fell at his feet. He stooped, picked up the 
blossom, and his face lighted as one who meets an 
unexpected friend amongst the hurly-burly of 
strangers. Murad laid his hand upon the tree as 
affectionately as he might have laid it upon the 
shoulder of his friend. 

^ ^ And fortune hath aimed at thee also the shafts of 
severance ? ’ ^ he asked most gravely. ‘ ^ Tell me of thy 
case, my friend. How hast thou thriven ? Art lonely 
here, so far from the tents of Islam ? 

He paused, bowed his head, and went his way 
within the house. 

When Murad reached the upper room again his 
melancholy fell from him. Selim stood like a statue 
at the end of a long table whereon he had set his 
master’s breakfast — dried flgs from Smyrna, dates 
from the Meccan desert, ship’s biscuit and delicacies 
supplied by Captain Plumeau. The faint aroma of 
coffee floated over it all. 

Murad rubbed his hands gayly, for youth and 
health, and the virile air of morning, will have their 
way at last. 


92 


CHAPTER VIII 

THE MARVEL OF THE GLOBE 


Breakfast being done, Selim poured water on 
Murad^s hands and wiped them with a napkin which 
he loosened from his waist. Then he sprinkled 
rose-water from a casting-bottle. 

Murad strolled about examining the room wherein 
he had spent the night. It was a rectangular apart- 
ment, twice the length of its breadth, being seven 
paces across and fourteen paces long. Murad had 
already measured this distance back and forth, care- 
fully counting his steps — a habit acquired during 
his confinement in the Caucasus. When he detected 
himself engaged in this same old occupation he 
laughed guiltily, and went to the front shutter. This 
he opened a bit, despite Grosjean^s caution, and 
peered through the crack. It was as he thought; 
the river ran directly past the house some thirty 
paces away, and such a river as the prophet durst 
not promise the faithful they should find in paradise. 
There was his landing-place of the night before, the 
projecting point, the willows. So much for the front. 

As the rear window overlooked the garden, he 
knew the room ran the full depth of the house. 
Such an utterly destitute apartment was hard for 
the oriental mind to comprehend. There were two 
cots, the heavy table, and several rough-made 
93 


GABRIELLE 


chairs. That was all. These had filled every need 
of Paul-Marie. 

Of the three doors to the apartment only one was 
open, that through which he had entered the night 
before. Murad was anxious to explore, but as his 
host had left the other doors shut, he did not feel 
free to go spying about the house. 

The broad-topped table in the room attracted him. 
He had never possessed a table large enough to 
hold his scientific instruments and his books. Here 
at least was a crumb of comfort, and he hastened 
to seize it. 

^^Oome, Selim, he said, and laid hold of the 
table. Together they dragged the cumbrous thing 
to the rear window where the light fell across its 
middle. But there were dim and misty regions at 
either end. 

^^Now, Selim, he said, open the brass chest. I 
shall help.” 

They hurried down the stair and opened a chest 
which rested where Grosjean had placed it in the 
hall. Inside, stowed away most carefully, were 
delicate crucibles, pipes of brass curiously inter- 
twisted, blackened furnaces, heavy-wicked lamps, 
with other articles weird and odd. Murad handled 
them all with careless familiarity j some of them 
the cautious SeUm declined to touch. One by one, 
making many trips, Murad carried everything up 
the stair and marshalled his treasures on the table. 
Another chest made of odorous cedar-wood contained 
his favorite books. These consumed much time in 
their unpacking, for Murad must needs open many 
of them, read a bit and smile, as though they were 
94 


THE MARVEL OF THE GLOBE 


friends whom he but stopped upon the way and 
questioned of their affairs. Betimes his lips moved 
as he read half aloud : 

“ The man who has no sense to rule his steps 
Slips, though the ground he treads be wet or dry.” 

At this he nodded j the words of his friend were 
exceeding wise. Meanwhile Selim had unpacked two 
excellent lamps whose shades shone with prisms of 
a hundred colors. These lamps he filled from a jug 
which Captain Plumeau had given, and placed them 
on the table. Murad looked on, greatly pleased. 

he said; ^^we shall make much comfort and 
peace. If a man but fill his mind, his body shall 
not suffer.’^ 

Then he bethought himself, and took a key from 
his bosom. He went again to the lower hall and 
searched amongst the boxes and the chests, finally 
selecting a small but exceedingly strong box, bound 
with hammered metal and securely locked. This he 
opened and from within took out a smaller box, of 
the bigness of a man^s hand. Most carefully he bore 
this up the stair and placed it in the open space on 
his table. Selim saw what his brother was about 
and left the room. Murad brooked no other presence 
when this engrossing idea got hold upon his mind. 

Murad bent over the tiny box with a tinier key, 
and opened it. He took therefrom a package wrapped 
in many cloths. These he unrolled inch by inch 
until he came to a crystal globe of the roundness of 
an orange. It seemed no rarity of rarities, yet had 
he broken it the world could not produce again its 
like. 


95 


GABRIELLE 


The pedestal of wrought iron filagree he wiped 
discreetly and set upon the table with no great ado. 
After patiently examining the globe to be sure it 
had suffered nothing of despite on its journey, he 
afi&xed it to the pedestal. It was filled with a color- 
less liquid, clearer than water could be imagined. 
Murad held it between himself and the light. There 
was neither speck nor mote to mar its perfect beauty. 
Then he took it in both his hands, pressing it close 
so that the fiowing of his blood might warm it. 

Murad sat with the crystal globe in his hands for 
a silent space which might not be measured. Time 
did not pass ; it endured like a fragment of eternity. 
In that void room there rose no sound j there was no 
stirring of a lash, no tremor of a breath. Murad^s 
turban, with its plume of heron’s feather, held itself 
immovable as the head of a carven god. 

His eyes were fixed upon the clear depths of the 
globe with every faculty of soul and body absorbed 
in contemplation. Murad focused every power of his 
will upon the globe, as a burning-glass which gathers 
heat from every sky to center it all in a single spark 
of fire most intense. 

The globe grew warm ; the liquid began to move 
restlessly as though some living thought had animated 
it. Murad observed with grim-lipped satisfaction 
♦ that his power had not waned for lack of use. When 
once his eyes had burned the seed of life into the globe 
he placed it on its pedestal, leaned close and watched. 

The spirit of Murad was in the East ; the essence 
of the globe was in the East, transported thither by 
the power of his dominating will. The bubbling of 
the imprisoned liquid told Murad many things. 

96 


THE MARVEL OF THE GLOBE 


Years before, when a wise man gave this ball of 
glass and water unto him, Murad turned it wonder- 
ingly in his hand — for Twas said the globe possessed 
a marvel beyond the grasp of mortal mind. 

The wise man smiled, then instructed him. He 
laid bare a mystery of nature so simple that Murad 
wondered all the more why any wood-chopper could 
fail to see a truth so palpable. Then Murad met 
the wise man smile for smile ; he smiled when the 
blindness fell from his own eyes, and smiled at the 
sightless eyes of others. 

Thereafter Murad found a pretext to place this 
globe in the blood-stained hand of his brother, the 
sultan, where it became inoculated with the heat of 
the sultanas passions, and impregnated with the 
blackness of the sultan’s desires. Such was the 
globe, and such was the simplicity of its marvel. 

Murad fixed his gaze upon the globe and fastened 
every thought upon his brother, clinging to one idea. 

So did he read the heart of his brother who by 
right of murder stood in the shoes of great Mahomet. 
Sitting there intensely silent, intensely occupied, 
Murad seemed not a man bound by fetters of the 
body, but a soul incarnate and omniscient. 

Beneath the fire of his eyes the liquid began to 
bubble and to boil. Dark streaks appeared like 
cirrus clouds j flashes of red darted across as forked ^ 
lightning writhes across the sky. The globe grew 
black. It seethed and raged with an imprisoned 
tempest. Murad’s lips contorted into a smile, queer 
and sullen, for he probed the depths of his crowned 
brother’s soul. Not even yet had he seen enough, 
for the light shone dim upon his table. His body 
7 97 


GABRIELLE 


moved without volition ; he took up the frail globe 
and laid it on the window-ledge. There the light 
searched it through and through, while Murad 
leaned on his elbows watching it. 

Murad knew his brother had not changed, that the 
black heart of him was consumed by doubts and 
harried by a coward’s fear. 

Impotent as Mmrod in his agony — friendless 
as though he were already fallen,” Murad whispered 
to himself. The liquid seemed to hear him j it 
shivered, grew pale, then the blackness and the 
defiance boiled up again. 

Although the mind and the soul of Murad were in 
the East meditating upon his brother, the eyes of 
his body were open, and the traitorous sunshine 
seduced him with a picture most alluring. 

Beyond the globe and beyond the passion there 
lay a garden — ^peaceful, yet a glowing anarchy of 
color — quiet, yet smouldering with insurgent per- 
fumes which besieged his window. The breath of 
summer panted through the pines, murmured 
amongst the water-lilies, and whispered sweetness 
unto the mignonette. 

Beyond the globe and above the wall Murad’s 
thoughts went wandering in a vast desert of blue, 
without palm or path or caravan upon it. In the 
heart of this desert he might dream his dream. 

Yet all the while his eyes were conscious that 
they saw a fountain with placid waters at its base, 
that they saw a broken oar which rested on the 
coping. It was a fountain where lilies bloomed and 
gold-fish played. It was the fountain beside which 
he had stood and pondered at the morning hour. 

98 


THE MARVEL OF THE GLOBE 


Murad was dimly conscious of a splashing in the 
basin — conscious of something, gleaming white, 
between the broad-leaved cannas. 

But Murad’s thoughts were in the measureless 
heavens seeking the prophet’s paradise. He gave 
no heed to the houri who disported herself in the 
fountain of earth. She might toss the gleaming 
drops into the air and gasp as they fell back upon 
her, yet he either did not see or he did not care. 
Gaudy-hued butterflies floated on the heavy air ; 
seemingly they swam upon the perfume waves that 
rose and fell like billows of some wonder sea. 

A nymph came out and sat beside the fountain 
twining up her hair — a nymph veiled by crisp green 
leaves, and guarded by stalwart brown friars who 
stood knee-deep in the water. The mocking-bird 
sang to her, and the pink-eyed rabbit threw his long 
ears forward. 

Murad saw naught of this. Yet his mind did 
treasure it, as a sleep-walker pockets a jewel in a 
dream. 

^^God wrote patience on the sleeping world,” 
said Murad. With the touch of his Anger he stilled 
the tumult in the globe, returned to the table and 
put it in the case. Then he took his seat. 

Murad was weary now and his eyes were dull j 
the long strain had consumed his vital force. He 
rested idly on his elbow, thinking of nothing, letting 
his mind run tetherless as a colt at play. Presently 
he closed his eyes. There came a noise at the door. 

Come, Selim,” he called; and Selim entered bearing 
a tray with coflee. 

As Murad sipped it the brothers talked of trifles 
99 

LOFC, 


GABRIELLE 


in the aimless way of men to whom neither good nor 
evil hap has befallen. Even as they talked Murad 
sprang up and walked to the window. A buried 
thought had come to resurrection. The sleep-walker 
had found a jewel in his pocket. 

Murad leaned on the casement looking out into 
the sunlit spaces beyond. He gazed long and 
earnestly, striving hard to remember. Wrinkles 
gathered about his eyes ; an expression of alertness 
came as if he were on the verge of capturing an 
elusive phantom. 

There was the fountain j he could see that through 
the cannas, and the willows shielded it in part. 
There were the tangled paths, the pomegranate bush, 
the overthrown tree with the grapevine coiled about 
it. There were the lazy rabbits, the swaying 
bananas and the vistas of the pines. All of these 
were familiar, but it lacked something that he had 
seen. Overflowing as it was with life, the garden 
seemed dead and disappointing. 


100 


CHAPTER IX 

THE GUEST OF DUMB HOUSE 


DuRiNa the remainder of the day Murad sat at his 
table skimming over many a richly-bound volume, 
running his fingers through the leaves, glancing at a 
picture — and laying them aside. Even the Koran 
failed him and was replaced in its gorgeous bag of 
satin. For half an hour he read a romance of Mzami, 
found it stupid, sighed and put it down. 

Selim glided in and out like a phantom, bringing up 
from the boxes and chests below such articles as were 
most needful. Murad gave him no heed. His thoughts 
went all a- wandering. Once in a while he rose and 
walked quickly to the window as if to take a quarry 
by surprise. Then he leaned on his elbow and stared 
into the garden — stared and tried to think. At these 
moments Murad smiled most queerly and uncertainly, 
striving to revive a dormant memory which eluded 
him. The memory was in his mind, hid amongst its 
secret archives — one of those fancies which come to 
men in dreams. He leaned from the window and 
listened, for the thought was garden -born and some- 
thing from the garden must recall it presently. 

Murad heard the drowsy hum of the bees, the chat- 
ter of the jay j he saw the tall pine, the waving cannas, 
all linked to another idea without which they were 
meaningless and vacant. His brow contracted, he 
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GABRIELLE 


shook his head and looked puzzled. Then he shrugged 
his shoulders, turned and made some trivial alteration 
in the arrangement of his table. 

Selim ran up and down the stair like a shuttle, 
bringing each time two heavy bags of coin, tied and 
sealed. He stacked them on the floor against the 
wall. At last he came with a brass-bound chest upon 
his shoulder wherein he stored the gold, leaving but 
one sack open for their present uses. 

^Ht is safer here 5 I shall bring up the others in 
good time,’’ he explained to Murad, who nodded 
without hearing what his brother said. 

When he had wearied of Selim, wearied of his 
studies, and most of all had wearied of the roof above 
his head, Murad selected a quaint old manuscript 
with which he went into the slumbering garden. 

Into the garden’s heart he went, to the bench 
beneath the pine, where the earth was cool and brown 
and carpeted with fallen needles. The magnolia threw 
its shadow heavy on the bench, and scattered petals 
in his path. 

Like a child that thrusts aside its task Murad laid 
down his manuscript and stretched himself upon the 
ground full length, upon the bosom of his mother. 
He lay face upward, his hands clasped beneath his 
head, with the fulness of the sky above him and the 
wideness of the world on either side. Here he might 
meditate in peace. 

He recalled the glories of the Ottoman Empire 
under Suleyman — recalled the Sultan Murad’s thrill- 
ing victory at Harva and the splendid achievements 
of that other Murad at the capture of Bagdad. He 
pictured to himself a turbaned sultan storming the 
102 


THE GUEST OF DUMB HOUSE 


capital of Eastern Eome and planting his victorious 
standards on its ramparts. And the visionary won- 
dered what exploits would be his, what victories or 
what disasters would befall when he came to reign as 
sultan in Stamboul. 

“When I play the chess of Empire on the board of 
Sov’reignty.” 

The words of the sultan-poet burst from him and 
made his heart beat faster. Murad closed his eyes 
and dreamed out his dream. 

But the skies were very blue in the garden, the 
birds were very gentle, the air so languorous and 
sweet ’twas difficult to brood forever upon the sound 
of distant war-drums. Presently Murad’s lips opened 
again, and without thought he repeated a well- 
remembered verse : 

“ Though I opened my eyes and closed them still the 
form was ever there ; Thus I fancied to myself ” 

His own words surprised him, they were so 
exceeding apt. 

^‘Yes! Yes!” he exclaimed, and sprang erect. 
^^That was it! Eight there — at the fountain!” 
Murad hurried to the fountain and stood beside it 
gazing down. Whatever treasure the pool might 
have once possessed there was not even a memory of 
it now. 

“ Spendthrift ! ” he murmured j can’st thou hoard 
nothing of thy riches?” 

He observed a fleet of crimson petals sailing on the 
pool ; he bent over and picked up two or three. They 
were rose petals. Murad lifted his head and looked 
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GABRIELLE 


about him. they could not have fallen there 

of themselves ; perhaps the wind ’ ^ 

He explored the garden and found but one rose- 
bush like unto these petals, and it grew some thirty 
paces from the fountain. ^^They could not blow so 
far/’ he decided. But there was no other solution, 
and the day was far too warm to study out a puzzle. 

Murad walked slowly back to the fountain and sat 
upon the coping. He looked around him at the 
garden walls, the tangled solitude, and laughed at his 
folly. am become a mere dreamer of dreams, 
and nothing more.” 

But the oar, which at the early morning hour he 
had laid as a bridge across the pool, now stood on end 
against the pine tree. The oar could not have gone 
there of itself. It was very queer and Murad sat 
down upon the bench to think about it. 

The sun passed on j the shadow of the pine moved 
slowly across the garden until it piled itself black and 
heavy against the wall of Dumb House. Murad rose 
and went the way of the shadows, towards the east, 
bowed his head and entered the darkened door. 

When night fell Murad heard the street door open. 
A gust of wind came up. Grosjean clambered the 
stair. 

“Well! Well!” he began heartily; “how have 
you fared? ’Tis a dismal old tomb, but ” 

“’Tis a kindlier tomb than some others,” Murad 
answered smilingly; “not so greedy — there’s space 
to stretch one’s legs and doors to get out of — 
perhaps.” 

The word “perhaps” startled Grosjean, as did the 
104 


THE GUEST OF DUMB HOUSE 


glance which. Selim cast towards his brother. The 
Frenchman wondered ; it gave him a creepy feeling as 
of something that impended which he could neither 
comprehend nor prevent. Murad employed that 

perhaps’^ so deliberately, with such distinct sug- 
gestion of a matter already decided, that he might as 
well have said, ^^It may rain to-morrow — perhaps.’^ 
The outcome might not be as Murad wished, but 
as another Power had already willed it. 

Grosjean looked straight at Murad, who smiled and 
held out his hand. You see we have made ourselves 
quite at home.’^ 

The litter of scientific instruments on the table 
caught Grosj can’s eye. A compass he knew some- 
thing of, the barometer, even the astrolabe and sex- 
tant. But there were queer retorts, crucibles of clay, 
complicated tubes of brass like writhing serpents — 
Grosjean saw them all but could venture no guess as 
to the alchemy which found work for such uncanny 
servants. 

Murad with a diffident and apologetic expression 
took up a pair of delicately adjusted scales, which 
trembled as he held them. He watched the balance 
shift back and forth. 

am taking possession. These are my friends. 
They shall fill my hours ; they shall keep my hands 
from idleness, my brain from brooding. Where one 
has his mind employed it matters little what restraints 
are placed upon the body. Therein lies a kingdom 
of itself, without boundaries and without tyrants. 
^My Mind to me a kingdom is.’ I believe it is one 
of the English poets who said it — do you know the 
English tongue ? ” 


105 


GABRIELLE 


Grosjean shook his head j it had been long, very- 
long, since man had spoken to him of poetry in this 
stern wilderness. Murad seemed puzzled. 

“It sounds not so well in French — the rhyme is 
more — more rough he hesitated, then continued 
with the air of one who has started badly and who 
endeavors to avoid an awkward ending : 

^ ^ The poet says : 

“ ‘ Walls of stone do not in themselves a cage consist ; 

And bars of iron are not alone a c^e. 

If the soul of the captive be free, no shackle 
Can bind him prisoner.’ 

“AJh, my friend, you see I make a poor translator 
by the mouth.’’ Murad seemed really discomfited at 
his failure. Grosjean stood silent, with a dim 
comprehension of the man’s loneliness — a loneliness 
beyond the reach of sympathy. Murad’s eyes of 
the East fretted, and the star upon his breast fiamed 
viciously. 

“But these” — with a quick gesture Murad indi- 
cated the walls, the narrow windows and the bars 
which confined him — “these would make a dungeon 
for a slave, for the body. Ah ! this body, what is it ? 
It is dirt ! It is food for the worms, for the vultures 
and the dogs. This tiny knife may utterly destroy it. 
Or a drop from this.” He picked up a vial from the 
table. “One drop from this vial and your strong 
arm withers — you join the caravan of a thousand 
years ago. Put the body in the ground and corrup- 
tion comes — ^roses bloom and briars grow — what mat- 
ters it ? But the soul ! Ah, my friend, what are these 
walls, these shackles ? There is its home amongst the 
106 


THE GUEST OF DUMB HOUSE 


stars. There it is free to wander as it will. Allah 
makes no prisoner of the soul.^^ 

Murad leaned his head against the window casement 
and looked upward into the infinite spaces of the 
night. Presently he turned and snoke quietly; 
pray you make no apology for the shelter yon have 
given me.^’ 

Grosjean looked at him, fascinated by the fervor of 
this youth who proclaimed a gospel of universal lib- 
erty, the first murmurs of which were burning upon 
the tongues of men in many lands. 

Suddenly Murad’s manner changed to the light and 
whimsical : But I talk too much — our brains catch 

a disease from the tongue. We babble of senseless 
things. Come, Selim — coffee. Let us sit down and 
talk together, you and I, my friend.” 

“I came,” suggested Grosjean, to show you bet- 
ter apartments in this house. You may find others 
more to your liking.” 

Selim bore the lamp which from its shining crystals 
of purple, yellow and red sent fantastic flickerings 
amongst the shadows. Grosjean opened one of the 
doors which pierced the southern wall. It led into a 
hallway like the hall below, but somewhat shorter, 
the rear having been cut off to make a sort of balcony 
overlooking the garden. 

^^We shall have those vines cut,” said Grosjean, 
pointing to the thick wistaria and honeysuckle. 

Twill give you more light.” Murad shook his 
head ; No ; they shall remain as God made them.” 

As they passed through the hall Grosjean observed 
Selim looking at a ladder which led to a square hole 
in the ceiling. ^^To the garret and the roof,” he 
107 


GABRIELLE 


explained. ^^You may need to mend the water 
tanks ! 

Beyond the hall were four large rooms furnished in 
French style, chairs with curving legs, broad divans 
and tables, all gracefully carved. The brocades were 
eaten away by moths, and the tapestries of the beds 
looked like ill-used battle-flags. 

^^You might occupy these rooms if you like.^^ 
Grosjean had not seen them for many years, and their 
decay surprised him. But I have no present means 
of repairing them. It would cause much gossip if I 
were to send artisans into this house. 

Murad waved aside his apologies with the frank 
delight of a boy: “ ^Twas in such a room,^^ he 
laughed, ^Hhat I spent my flrst years in France. 
They were happy years. Raymond and I were both 
young, and lived only for pleasure. Pleasures grow 
very stupid, do they not, my friend ? Fear not j 
Selim is a famous — how do you speak it? — uphol- 
sterer ; yes, yes, upholsterer, ^nd we shall make much 
comfort in these quarters.’^ 

Grosjean pointed to a large metal tub which stood 
in a corner — the sole luxury which Paul-Marie per- 
mitted. The pipes were rusted and the faucets refused 
to turn. 

^^Here is the bath,’’ he said ; “a poor affair, but 
’twill serve at a pinch. The tanks are on the roof ; 
the water is very good.” 

Selim pried into the fittings and into the pipes. 
His face brightened. “We can make it good again. 
Some grease — it is very strong.” 

“I shall choose this room,” Murad decided. 

When they had finished their round of the upper 
108 


THE GUEST OF DUMB HOUSE 


rooms Grosjean showed them through the lower floor 
— seven large apartments, and a hall, all carpeted 
with dust that for twenty years had not been disturbed 
by human foot. 

You can be quiet here/^ remarked Grosjean, a 
poor attempt at jest. 

There is no one in the house asked Murad. 

^^None.^’ 

Nor in the garden 

Only the rabbits and the crows. I have not seen 
the garden for many years. 

^‘No one ever goes into the garden, man or — 
woman ^ Murad persisted. 

^^It is quite deserted. You may be as secluded as 
any hermit might wish.’^ 

Presently they mounted the stair again to where 
the green lamps burned on the table. Murad gravely 
motioned the other to take a chair. 

“ Cofiee, Selim, he said. Their relations had 
changed ; the host had become the guest. For some 
minutes both men sat silent, the only sound in the 
room being the swish of Selim^s garments as he moved 
about preparing their refreshment. 

It was long since Grosjean had seen such golden 
vessels and silver salvers as Selim placed before him 
— so marvellously rich as to make mockery of the flgs, 
the dates and the ship^s biscuit. 

From Selim^s corner there rose an odor of coffee, 
filling the room with mellow cheer. Selim set two 
tiny cups of gold before them, two pipes, and an 
exquisitely carven box fragrant with the Turkish 
weed. 

Be at your peace, my friend ; we shall break our 
109 


GABRIELLE 


bread together Murad inclined his head, and bent 
to sip his coffee. He snapped a biscuit between his 
fingers ; the meal began. 

The young man’s manner was simplicity itself, yet 
there lay a kingliness and royal grace beneath it. His 
garb of white wool from the finest looms of Persia 
fell apart at throat and waist, revealing the broidered 
girdle and the cords of gold that laced his shirt. The 
soft white turban cast no shadows on his whiter brow ; 
the lamplight dickered across his crisp black hair, 
and the star shone upon his breast. 

Grosjean wondered at the whim of destiny which 
had cast this man into Dumb House. He could not 
realize that a Prince Imperial of the Ottomans sat 
within ear-shot of the panther — a neighbor to the 
painted Chicasa, within whoop of the warlike 
Natchez. And Gabrielle was scarcely twenty paces 
away. Verily the ends of the earth had come together. 

Then for a long while they talked, these two men of 
different bloods and different worlds. The woods- 
man’s soul warmed to the lad, and in his grasp at 
pai-ting there was a friendship which might otherwise 
have been many years in growing. 

It was late when Grosjean rose to go. Murad him- 
self lighted their way down the stair and followed 
through the lower room. 

^^Be careful with the lamp,” suggested Grosjean; 
^4t must not be seen from the street. ’Twould give 
these folk a famous fright to see a green lamp moving 
about in Dumb House. But — I meant to tell you — ” 
he halted with his hand upon the door — “I shall my- 
self bring all necessary provision at nights. There is 
no other way.” 


110 


THE GUEST OF DUMB HOUSE 


Murad thought a moment, then stooped and raised 
the lid of a chest which Selim had not emptied. One 
bag had burst. Some of the gold and many loose 
jewels lay scattered on the bottom. Murad touched 
Grosjean’s arm and directed his eyes to the chest. 

“My friend,” he said gently, “let us understand 
each other. I use your house freely, paying only with 
my gratitude. I lean upon your love — for that I pay 
nothing. But for other things I must pay in gold. 
Selim will take this chest up stairs. But there — ” he 
lifted a bag and dropped it in the corner next the 
door ; “I pray you use this money and pay your 
‘ people for their wares.” 

“Yes,” answered Grosjean after a period of silence ; 
“you are right. I shall be your steward.” 

Before he opened the door Grosjean motioned Murad 
to withdraw the lamp. Then he passed through the 
dark hall, out into the night. 

“Jean! Jean!” scolded Gabrielle, “supper is 
cold.” 

“I could not help it j I had affairs.” 

His daughter stepped back quickly and evaded 
him. “No, you shall do a penance — ten aves, seven 
penitential psalms.” She sprang forward and kissed 
him. “Now you are absolved.” 

Jean took his seat at table. He smiled at the 
unsuspecting Gabrielle. How wide her eyes would 
open could she but guess the romance that was 
concealed in Dumb House. 


Ill 


CHAPTER X 

THE INTRUDER 


Whilst the sun climbed laboriously from the 
horizon to the zenith, Murad bent over his table 
without weariness or flagging. The morning hours 
passed, yet never once had the garden claimed his 
glance or thought. Many books lay open and ready 
to his hand, but not the poets which generally gave 
him such delight. The witty Saadi had lost his 
charms ; the lyrics of Hafiz, and Hairi’ s verse — even 
the patriotic lines of Kemal Bey failed to thrill or 
interest him. Instead of these he consulted the 
ponderous tomes of astrologers, compared the precise 
mathematicians, and followed astronomers through 
their starry labyrinths. Swiftly he turned from one 
to the other, making his calculations. 

Murad covered the paper before him with queer 
symbols of the zodiac and a wilderness of figures. 
Yet the engrossing problem of the stars was not 
solved. There was some secret influence which he 
could not fathom, as if some undiscovered planet 
had intervened and upset the harmony of his 
constellations. 

The bulky volume on astrology contained the 
winnowed wisdom of many ancient peoples. Yet 
it was dumb as to the point which puzzled him. 
Verily there was a new conjunction. Murad stopped 
112 


THE INTRUDER 

and meditated with finger between the yellowed 
leaves. 

Selim, thinking that Murad had reached a con- 
clusion, came forward and stood beside the table. 
The brain-weary man glanced up. 

^^Forty-six days,^^ he said; ^^full time that we 
should know. Yet the stars tell a halting story. 
They speak of courage, love, sacrifice and death. 

^ ^ Death ? ^ ’ repeated Selim. 

^^Yes, and Tis a star of the first magnitude that 
falls.’' 

Selim turned aside, shivering, whilst Murad went 
on : “The Moon of Safar will rise in Scorpio, with 
red-eyed Antares glaring down. It seemeth a para- 
dox that I, who was born under Jupiter Fortunatus, 

should die beneath the Moon in Scorpio. Yet ” 

Murad shrugged his shoulders ; the matter was 
quite beyond his control. Why should he fight 
against the stars ? 

He pushed aside his books, rose from the table 
and moved at hazard about the room. 'Twas a com- 
plicated study, fraught with much portent for good 
or evil, this conjunction of Mars in Sagittarius. 
What could it mean, a foregathering of the God of 
War with the Archer of the Skies? Murad revolved 
it long. 

A faint suggestion of honeysuckle and tuberose 
came pulsing through the window. Insensibly 
Murad approached it, step by step. A wave of 
warm sweet perfumes greeted him. He leaned 
against the casement and suffered his eyes to wan- 
der whithersoe’er they would. It was very restful. 
Murad flung his eyes downward upon the garden — 
8 113 


GABRIELLE 


the drowsy, dreamful, silent garden — much as a man 
might fling his weary limbs upon a couch. 

He fell to watching the long tendrils of a grape 
which waved from the myrtle-tree. It rustled with 
a most delicious languor. Murad’s lashes drooped 
and he reeled in spirit as one who is drunken with- 
out wine. There was a soul in that garden and 
Murad felt its call. ^^Come unto me,” the garden 
said, and I will give you peace.” Vaguely his 
eyes followed the path. Two cape jessamine bushes, 
grown so voluptuous that they melted into each 
other’s arms across it, stood on either side. Rounded 
and milky white with blossoms, they trembled be- 
neath the touch of perfumed winds like a sleeping 
woman’s breasts. Murad’s glance passed on, seek- 
ing the tall pine which by accident or design stood 
equidistant from every wall. He recalled Yazigi’s 
verses : 

“In the courtyard’s riven centre planted He the 
tuba tree.” 

Allah hath purpose in all things,” thought 
Murad. ^^For centuries perchance that pine hath 
grown in order that I, the least of His creatures, 
might sit upon the bench beneath it and learn some 
lesson.” 

For a space, how long he knew not, Murad stood 
at the casement listening to the under-noises of the 
day — ^hearing the whispered songs of unconsidered 
creatures. His soul rejoiced that no other eye pried 
into the garden, that here the blood-stained march 
of Empire should never come. 

Suddenly there came a sound, a clear and tinkling 
114 


THE INTRUDER 


sound, vague as a half- detected echo of a crystal 
bell. He heard the splash of waters, and heard a 
laugh — a laugh so low and musical as to shame the 
houris that haunt the purling brooks of paradise. 

It roused a memory within him, and Murad bent 
his ear to catch the re-awakened chord. Again it 
came, one pure note vibrating as from the heart of 
a kitar which hath a solitary string. 

Murad’s mind flashed back to the puzzle of the 
day before, and his eyes sought the fountain. The 
marble boy upon its summit held out his empty 
cornucopia. Murad saw him quite plainly, even at 
his distance of an hundred paces. But the pool 
itself lay hid behind a row of cannas and willows. 
The jealous wind died sullenly and refused to part 
their screen. Murad saw a handful of water mount 
into the air, and heard a gasping laugh. Try as he 
might, he could see nothing more. He craned his 
neck to right and left. No water rose, the laugh 
came no more, and Murad began to wonder whether 
his fancy had not again misled him. 

^‘Perhaps I can see better from the hall,” he 
thought. He left his window, not so abruptly as to 
rouse Selim, but lost no time. He hurried through 
the hall and came out upon the rear balcony. The 
vines hung thick and he feared to part them noisily. 
Moving from place to place his view opened and 
closed in most tantalizing fashion. He was about 
to leave in disgust when through a crevice of the 
vines he saw something stir beside the fountain. A 
head appeared above the cannas, the gleam of a 
shoulder white as alabaster behind a barrier of 
green. For one instant he saw a rounded arm 
115 


GABRIELLE 


upraised, twining at a coil of hair. Then he saw the 
cannas again, saw the roses winking at him, saw the 
lazy sunshine, the vacant garden — and saw nothing 
more. He waited and waited. Still the vacant 
garden, still the lazy sunshine — and nothing more. 
Then he came back to his table and mused upon 
what he had seen. 

The devotee’s first thought was one of resentment 
at this intrusion upon his privacy — this desecration 
of his solitude wherein a soul might come face to 
face with God. 

Murad pondered upon the long path by which he 
had travelled from the desires of the body to the 
peaceful meditation of the soul. iN’o caravans pur- 
sued that path j the solitary pilgrim walked alone. 
Long ago, as taught by his prophets, Murad had 
left behind him that State of the Commanding Flesh 
when carnal desires dominate the soul. Within a 
lesser time had he passed the State of the Upbraid- 
ing Soul, wherein the soul makes war upon the body. 
Putting both behind him, Murad had struggled up- 
ward to the State of the Peaceful Soul, with passions 
all subdued. 

None knew better than he the temptations which 
beset a man on such a path, more strongly if the 
traveller be of such exalted rank as lifted him above 
responsibility. Dazzling oases lured on every side. 
Mellow fruits hung from every branch. Having 
passed them safely and entered the Great Knowledge, 
none would dare turn back and dally on the way. 
Yet Murad was lonely, and Murad was very young. 

Presently he rose from his table and moved again 
to the window. The garden lay spread beneath him, 
116 


THE INTRUDER 


deserted and smiling in the sun. But it was his own 
garden no longer, his vision of solitude had vanished, 
broken beyond the mending, for dreams once shat- 
tered can be patched no more. 

Without warning that woman^s laugh rang out 
again from some far nook in the wood, intangible 
as the perfumes. A smile gathered at Murad^s 
lips — and died. As one who in some enchanted 
palace watches alertly for whatever hap may come, 
so Murad turned his face in the direction of the 
laugh. 

From behind a clump of swamp palmettoes crept 
a girl — a girl in gray and white, intent upon her 
play. She moved forward on her knees, holding out 
her hands to a bird most brilliantly red. The bird 
bore his head jauntily to one side, hopping out of 
reach as she advanced. 

‘^Come, my pretty cardinal, she reassured him, 
dropping crumbs upon the ground j ^Uet us be 
friends ; you need not fear a little nun in gray.^^ 

The little red cardinal paused to consider. She 
drew back and waited. The bird, wary of placing 
confidence in strangers, picked up the crumbs, yet 
never took those keen black eyes from Gabrielle. 

He took her bait, but when she stretched her hand 
to him he fiew into a fig-tree. There he balanced 
himself on a branch and regarded her with half- 
allayed suspicion. 

Never mind, little red father, never mind,^^ she 
said, rising and brushing the sand from her knees. 
‘^We shall get acquainted by-and-by. See, I leave 
your dinner here, and bring you more to-morrow. 

Gently, ever so gently, so as not to alarm her 
117 


GABRIELLE 


friendj she scattered bits of bread upon a clear space 
in the path, then backed away. 

The bird flew down to eat them, and friends came 
to join him at his meal. Gabrielle stood by, smiling 
at the quickness of their movements. 

“What ugly manners you have — you greedy blue 
fellow ; stop pecking that tiny wren. Aren’t you 
ashamed? You!” She clapped her hands and the 
birds rose in a whirring cloud. 

Intently as Gabrielle kept her eyes upon the birds 
and motionless as she stood, she was no stiller than 
Murad at his window. Perchance if he made a 
noise, she too would flutter away. 

The girl had come now within thirty paces of his 
window and stood there utterly unconscious of being 
observed. Murad had never seen a woman garbed 
so simply. A skirt of gray, severely plain, fell 
nearly to ^her ankles. She wore a simple white 
bodice, with sleeves rolled up, and turned in at the 
throat for comfort. Brown kisses of the sun lay 
upon her cheeks, yet failed to hide the rich coloring 
beneath them. Her arms and throat gleamed whiter 
than the swan’s unsullied breast. 

But it was the unbound hair of the girl, flowing 
to her waist, that fascinated Murad. It glistened 
dully in the sun like the darker gold of Tyre. She 
kept lifting its heavy masses and running her fingers 
through it. “Quite dry,” she finally decided, glanc- 
ing up at the sun. Murad shrank behind his shutter. 

“ I must be careful not to get it wet again ; Margot 
will be suspecting.” Gabrielle smiled, and picked 
up her bonnet, which she had been dragging behind 
her by a string. With a few deft movements she 
118 


THE INTRUDER 


twisted her hair into a rope, bound it round her head 
and put on her bonnet. 

^^Oh dear! A briar I She stooped, lifted her 
skirt and pulled a branch of thorns from its hem. 

Murad backed noiselessly from the window, and 
ran down the stair. 

The door baffled him ; it would creak violently if 
opened. Little by little he pried it from its fasten- 
ings, and after a prudent reconnoissance, stepped 
across the threshold. 

Murad paused outside. His eyes peered above the 
hedges, swept the garden, searched among the tall 
and slender hollyhocks. Nothing stirred. 

Faring on at random he stopped beside the pile of 
crumbs whence the birds had flown. He hurried on, 
looking behind every bush and tree. The bower of 
scarlet roses sheltered nothing but a hare. Gabrielle 
had vanished. The pampas grasses nodded and shook 
their heads as if they knew not whither she had gone. 
Behind the cannas lay the fountain, empty and unruf- 
fled like the vacant sky. The cat-tails dabbled their 
feet in its waters and whispered to each other, but 
kept their secret. The boy with the cornucopia held 
his lips tight-shut. 

Murad began a systematic search, thrashing the 
damp haunts of fern and periwinkle where sunlight 
never shone. In the darkest corner a grapevine had 
throttled an oak, breaking its rotten heart and falling 
with it to the ground. Murad stooped, peered into 
the shadows, and scared out a partridge. 

Having crossed the garden many times from waU to 
wall he came back to the pine. There was a fresh 
rose lying on the bench j he took it up and wondered. 

119 


GABRIELLE 


see no gate in the wall and no place to hide.^^ 
He shrugged his shoulders, then rose abruptly and 
walked towards the house. 

A group of birds wrangled over the bread that 
Gabrielle had scattered. Here was undeniable evi- 
dence. Murad stopped beside it ; there it was, but 
that was all. 

Ee-entering the house he passed from room to room 
on the lower floor. Beyond all dispute the place was 
empty. When he went up the stair he stood again at 
his window, irritated at being so mystified. 

^‘To-morrow she brings the red-bird^ s dinner. I 
shall keep watch.’’ 

Presently he called Selim. Selim,” he said, ‘Hhe 
garden is mine — mine atone. Let no other eye 
profane it.” 

Hearkening and obedience,” answered Selim. 

Thenceforth the garden was consecrated unto 
Murad, his sanctuary of loneliness and meditation. 


120 


CHAPTER XI 

I AM CALLED GABRIELLE 


The piebald horse of Night and Day had struggled 
through the dusk, galloped across the shining seas, 
and now the sun rode gloriously upon the fleckless 
desert of the heavens. The Sultan of the Skies viewed 
the earth from high in air, as though it were a platter 
midmost the water. 

The rich glow of day mellowed Murad^s table. He 
leaned forward on his elbow and drew the globe closer 
to him, shivering beneath his glance. Through and 
through the acutely sensitive thing he peered. The 
liquid woke to life. Streaks of red shot across it 5 
clouds gathered, and tempests raged. The fragile 
shell strained itself to bursting. ’Twill destroy 
him,” he muttered 5 such flres burn out the crucible 
at last.” 

With the globe still in his hand Murad turned. 
The light fell across his face and shimmered on his 
pale blue robe. So thin it was, so surpassingly flne, 
it seemed the fllament of a bubble. 

His eyes wandered through the window and rested 
on the pine. High above it a bird floated with un- 
moving wing. Murad’s thoughts were not upon the 
pine, nor yet upon the bird. Despising the trammels 
of space he stood in the palace of his fathers, a 
crowned sultan. Commander of the Faithful. And 
121 


GABRIELLE 


if it so happen by the will of God the Most High, per- 
chance my soul may become like unto this. What 
matters it? Our mouths shall be stopt with dust — 
dust, the skulls of kings and the feet of beggars. 

He laid his head upon the table, then lifted it 
suddenly and sprang up: ^‘The red-bird^ s dinner. 
To-morrow is come.^^ 

His thoughts fluttered from him restless as the 
sacred doves of Mecca, circling round their cotes then 
settling back again. Murad laughed. ^^Here I sit 
speculating upon an unknown woman as though she 
were a piece of the moon — verily the mind pursueth 
fancies most vaguely odd.^^ 

He turned to the globe again ; it had quieted into 
stolid water, for Murad could not fix his mind upon it. 
He replaced it in its case, turned the key, and took 
his position at the window. 

“Yes, yes, the lines are from Sheykh,^’ he mur- 
mured presently j “I remember them well : 

“ ‘ She’s made the pool a casket for her frame fair, 

And all about that casket spreads her dark hair ; 

He saw the water round about her ear play ; 

In rings upon her shoulders her dark locks lay.’ ” 

A delicious irresponsibility took possession of him, 
bringing him fancies sweeter than opium-born imagin- 
ings from the black poppy of Thebais. The dreamer 
dreamed, and the garden slept. 

Perfumes rose as though from censers swung along 
the path of some indolent odalisque. A twig snapped ; 
the green vines parted. GabrieUe ran into the open 
space and lifted her arms towards the sky. With 
famished lips she drank of freedom. There was a soul 
122 


I AM CALLED GABRIELLE 


in the garden different from that of the convent, and 
she snckled at the breast of new desires. 

Gabrielle stood perfectly still. Her narrow cell had 
bred a narrow soul, knowing naught beyond its four 
contracted walls. But the thoughts that came in the 
garden never came in the cell. Nameless desires 
thrilled her. Her heart surged upward as though it 
were some bold- winged creature beating its pinions 
against a star. 

If an eagle flew across the skies her unleashed spirit 
kept pace beside him ; if a lark rose like a rocket and 
sang unto the sun, she joined her jubilant voice to his. 
A rabbit stretched himself at the mouth of his burrow 
— Gabrielle felt a childish desire to lie basking in the 
sun. She drew a long deep breath and dropped her 
eyes, frightened at these new delicious thoughts. She 
turned her back upon the house and went slowly 
towards the fountain. 

Murad watched her from his window until she had 
passed the pomegranate and the orange, then vanished 
amidst the swamp palmettoes which grew beyond the 
pine. The garden was empty as Eden before woman 
and temptation came. 

Murad disappeared from the window. His draper- 
ies floated through the room, lost themselves in dark- 
ness on the stair, then lighted brilliantly as he stepped 
into the outer sunshine. The blue robe moved 
rapidly and halted at the orange-tree. 

He saw Gabrielle standing beside the fountain scat- 
tering rose petals on the water and smiling at the 
frightened fish. Murad smiled too. She sat down on 
the coping and began dabbling her hands in the water. 
He moved a pace to see her clearer. She rolled back 
123 


GABRIELLE 


her sleeve and reached deep to pluck a lily. He saw 
her lift the lily to her lips and drop it carelessly into 
the pool. Then she leaned forward and began to 
unlace her shoe — one shoe was already in her hand. 

Murad hesitated and felt guilty in his hiding-place. 
He stepped into the path, paused, drew back again. 
The girl called out clearly, What are you looking at 
— you silly thing? Gabrielle laughed and spoke 
most brazenly: “ Come out, you old peeper.’’ 

Murad hid himself deeper in the banana clump, and 
felt the hot blood rush into his temples. He did not 
guess that Gabrielle was speaking to a rabbit whose 
pink eyes stared at her from underneath a hedge. 
WTiile he stood undecided whether to go forward or 
slip back into the house, Gabrielle sprang up and 
dashed along the path towards him. She ran on, try- 
ing with eager hands to catch a butterfly. On, on she 
came, and almost rushed into his arms. 

Gabrielle halted, dazed and bewildered. A blue 
vision confronted her — a figure such as she knew not 
existed in the world. She stopped with the very 
breath of motion in her garments as though she were 
a bird which had been frozen in its flight. Her knees 
trembled and refused to turn. This then was the 
Spirit of the Garden. Her eyes dilated j she pressed 
her hand upon her bosom as startled women do. The 
two gazed dumbly at each other, Gabrielle’ s eyes 
being fascinated by that glittering star upon his 
breast. Like a basilisk it held her senses bound, 
without power to cry out or to move. 

And then, from afar off as it seemed to Gabrielle, 
there came a voice so full of mellow sweetness that all 
her fears were stilled, though her heart beat very fast. 

124 


I AM CALLED GABRIELLE 


Peace be with you, my child, said he of the 
lifted hand. The jewel winked and blinked in the 
sun with a thousand sleepy eyes. 

Murad^s greeting came quietly, but Gabrielle’s 
glance did not waver from that wondrous jewel. It 
glowed like a living thing, and gave back stare for 
stare. 

In some way, she scarce knew how, Gabrielle saw 
his shimmering robe of blue — saw his white turban 
with the heron^s plume — saw his girdle of curious 
filagree, and saw the golden cords which laced his 
shirt. More than this she realized that his eyes were 
deep and kind, that he was young, with broad white 
brow and blackest hair. Gabrielle was conscious of 
these things though she did not take her eyes from 
the star. 

The figure in blue commenced advancing upon her, 
and Gabrielle went backward pace by pace. 

^^I did not know,’^ she stammered j ^^I did not 
know that you were here. I did not know that any- 
body was here ’ ^ 

Murad reassured her with a smile. Gros- 
jean’s daughter, like Grosjean^s self, felt its winsome 
gravity. “No. I have but just taken my abode 
within that house. I am come from a distant land. 
What is your name, my child? 

“I am called Gabrielle,’^ she raised her trustful 
eyes and answered simply. 

“Do you live here — in the garden ? 

“Oh dear, no ! she made brave to smile 5 “no one 
lives in gardens. I come into this one every day.^^ 

“Yes, you were Murad checked himself, and 

asked instead : ‘ ‘ Where do you live ? ^ ^ 

125 


GABRIELLE 


My father lives there.’’ She pointed to a roof-top 
above the wall. 

Murad glanced along the unbroken summit of the 
wall, at the spikes of steel and bits of jagged glass. 
^^The gate?” 

Gabrielle laughed, she could not help it — Mother 
Louise often said she would laugh at mass or any- 
where else if a comical idea entered that rattle-pate 
of hers. There is no gate j I slipped through a hole 
— a very tiny hole. ’ ’ 

So the riddle was read. 

^^Do you come every day?” Murad inquired, 
determined to learn somewhat of her. 

Every day since Jean brought me from the con- 
vent. My father is Grosjean. This is his garden, 
but he has not entered it since I was born.” 

Which has not been so very long ? ” 

Indeed it has, a very long time, nineteen years.” 

Gabrielle backed away, keeping pace step by step 
with his advance, not from any fear, but she had 
commenced retreating and did not know how to stop. 

Murad bethought himself of yesterday when this 
airy girl wasted her blandishments upon the cardinal 
— how the wary bird hopped away before her, then 
suddenly flirted himself into a fig-tree. It would 
scarcely have surprised Murad had GabrieUe flown to 
the top of the pine. He chuckled at the queer con- 
ceit, then laughed aloud, and the laugh bound 
Gabrielle to him — it was so very hearty and boyish. 

Yet Gabrielle kept backing and backing, silly as 
she felt. They came now, he and she together in this 
wise, within the dense magnolia’s shade and near the 
fountain. That startled pool beheld a man and woman 
126 


I AM CALLED GABRIELLE 


side by side. Of a verity there be new things some- 
times underneath the sun. 

Each looked down at the fountain, for neither could 
look directly at the other, and each had curiosity. 
Both were mirrored in the fountain, and both looked 
down. 

^^Oh exclaimed Gabrielle, for there lay a shoe, 
and she remembered that she had on but one. She 
brushed the sand from her foot, and bent over, hiding 
her face until both were tied. 

^^This is a very beautiful place, Murad ventured. 

I love it,’^ she answered with terse simplicity. 

''And he added. 

"You?^^ It was then that GabrieUe looked up, 
and resentfully. Why should he love her garden? 
Wniiat right ? 

"It is The Peace, as God made it,^^ Murad said. 
"He meant not that all places should be filled with 
babble. I have journeyed far to find such a retreat. 
Ho one comes, no one intrudes ” 

"Do you mean that I — ^that I have intruded?’^ 
Gabrielle asked, staggered by the fear that he might 
claim her garden and thrust her out. She drew back 
and glanced towards the breach in the wall. 

" Ho,’^ he promptly set the girl at ease j " it is not 
that — you are a part of the garden.^’ 

This sounded absurd to Gabrielle ; he spoke of her 
quite impersonally, as if she were the boy on top of 
the fountain, or the big pine-tree. But Gabrielle did 
not laugh outright; necessity in the convent had 
obliged her to gulp down many a burst of merriment. 

" Yes,’^ she assented ; " I do feel that I am part of 
the garden — or the garden is part of me.’^ 

127 


GABRIELLE 


you be seated be asked, indicating the 
bench with a gesture midway between the gallantry 
of France and the gravity of the East. 

Gabrielle did not quite comprehend whether this 
was a polite suggestion that she be seated in her gar- 
den, or a command delivered in his garden. But the 
authority of his eyes made it impossible to disobey — 
besides she did not want to disobey. She seated her- 
self on the farthest corner of the bench. And she sat 
there so very still that she recalled the times when 
Mother Louise came into the class-room and clapped 
her hands : every girl ran instantly to her stall, and 
one might have heard a fly. So it was now in the 
garden. Murad stood with folded arms before her, 
calm, self-contained and deferential. 

Gabrielle huddled herself together in the corner of 
her bench. Those great black eyes looked her through 
and through, yet gave the uncomfortable impression 
of not seeing her at all. She felt transparent j it^s 
not very nice for a person to be looking at something 
else and staring directly through another person. He 
did not seem to be even thinking of her. 

With wide blue eyes fixed full upon him she held 
her breath and waited for him to speak. 


128 


CHAPTER XII 

WHO ARE YOU 


It was very puzzling. Gabrielle could recall no 
instruction of the convent which taught a girl what 
to do in such emergency. There must he a rule — 
Mother Louise had a rule for everything. How she 
wished she^d been more studious and learned all the 
rules. The man stood before her with his arms 
folded, saying nothing for ever and ever so long. 

Perhaps the sisters themselves did not know, 
unless it were Sister Therese, who had been in the 
world before taking vows ; but from what Sister 
Therese said Gabrielle never should have imagined 
that men behaved this way. Why did he not say 
something — anything ? 

How straight he looked at her, through her. 
Gabrielle snatched up her bonnet from the bench 
where she had tossed it when she went to chase the 
butterfly. She drew it across her bosom. Thus 
protected she tried to think of something to say ; she 
did think of it and when ^twas said she wished sheM 
held her tongue. 

The man had asked her name, so, bristling like a 
kitten, Gabrielle demanded, “And who are youP^ 

“My name is Murad, he replied. There was 
nothing in the voice to cause alarm. 

Gabrielle wondered whether it were anger or amuse- 
ment that kept twitching at the corners of his mouth. 

9 129 


GABRIELLE 


She hated to be made sport of. It must have been 
amusement, she decided, for the other words he said 
were very comical, though he did not even smile, and 
seemed to remember them quite perfectly. 

Amurath Abderahman Mahomet Muza ben Mus- 
tapha. In France they call me Murad. 

Gabrielle dared not laugh until the blue man had 
laughed and held out his hand. It was a great relief 
to hear him speak and laugh. 

^^Let us be friends,^’ he urged, still stretching forth 
his hand. ^^You are Grosjean^s daughter j I am his 
guest. Mayhap he has told you I am here.^^ 

Gabrielle said, “JSTo,’^ and shook her head. Then 
she sprang up in confusion. ^ ‘ Oh dear, no ! I do not 
mean it that way — ^that we shall not be friends. I 
meant that my father has told me nothing. I was 
quite ignorant until I saw you standing there, and you 
startled me very much. You had no right to startle 
me. I have never talked with a man before. I fear 
you do not understand. Yes, I shall gladly be your 
friend. That is what I meant. Will you not sit on 
the bench? It is a very long bench. She laughed 
nervously and hoped he was not offended. She had 
certainly done all possible to mend a bad speech and 
keep him from feeling hurt. 

“ There^s a bird’s nest in that bush, with four little 
ones. Shall I show it to you ? ’ ’ This was the most 
alluring idea which occurred to Gabrielle on the 
moment. 

“I shall be greatly honored.” Murad’s eyes 
twinkled. 

Gabrielle led him a little space to an arbor-vitae 
bush and parted the thick foliage. 

130 


WHO ARE YOU 


^^See. There it is. No — in the forks. Peep at 
them and make no noise. Just think how young they 
are, they were hatched last week. Is it not absurd to 
be so young She pressed a branch aside and 
directed his eyes to a nest where four little heads 
were raised, and four yellow caverns opened. 

‘^Hold the branch, she ordered; ^^they are very 
hungry, poor things. 

Gabrielle darted off and began breaking pieces from 
a rotten stump. Presently she returned with some 
white larvse in her palm. 

^^Now watch them, the greedy little dears. 

With utmost gravity Murad stood aside whilst 
Gabrielle parcelled out the dinner, dropping a morsel 
into each uplifted mouth. 

“Oh dear! they^re never satisfied. They’d keep 
me working all day long. But if I were to give them 
any more it would make them ill.” 

Murad let the branch swing into place and turned 
towards the bench. Gabrielle walked in advance until 
they approached a bramble thicket. Murad stepped 
quickly ahead and caught an outreaching spray of 
briers. He bent it back and stood waiting for her to 
pass in safety. Gabrielle felt exceedingly awkward ; 
he being a stranger it was her duty to clear the path 
for him — ^was it not her father’s garden, and was he 
not their guest ? Of mere gallantries she had no con- 
ception, nor of the thousand useless services which 
men render to women. She only felt rebuked, and 
obliged to say something. “I love birds,” she 
ventured, seating herself as composedly as might be 
upon the bench. 

“ And so do I — now,” he answered. 

131 


GABRIELLE 


Gabrielle laughed somewhat nervously. “You do 
not know how you frightened me a while ago ; but we 
are getting acquainted now, aren’t we?” Gabrielle 
would not have been a woman had she sent no stealthy 
glances at the man’s tunic as he suffered it to fall 
carelessly across the bench. Never had she seen a 
silken stuff so fine, nor colors that were so heavenly. 
Her fingers itched to touch it and feel if it were soft 
as it appeared. His shirt seemed thinner than the 
film of a bubble, translucent, opalesque, alive with 
changeful hues. 

He certainly dressed queerly, — not like her father, 
the couriers, nor like an officer who once came to the 
convent. He did not in the least resemble the pict- 
ures in a book which Sister Therese smuggled from 
France, and the novices read so eagerly. She feared 
to look her fill upon him : he might be offended. She 
tried to listen to what he was saying, but the star dis- 
tracted her. 

“You entered the garden through a breach in the 
wall?” Murad asked, returning to the puzzle which 
had interested him so deeply. 

“Yes,” Gabrielle nodded, trying to tear her eyes 
away from the star. 

“From there?” Murad persisted, inclining his 
head towards the red-tiled roof beyond the wall. 

“Yes, that is our garden on the other side j it is not 
so big as this — nor so beautiful.” 

“Does any one else come here, except yourself?” 
he questioned. 

“No one knows the hole is there ; ” Gabrielle spoke 
with childish triumph. “It’s a famous secret. I 
found it all by myself, ever so many years ago. It 
132 


WHO ARE YOU 


happened this way : — Gabrielle’s eyes sparkled ; she 
had pitched upon something to talk about, and went 
on gayly to tell him the one white secret of her life. 

You see this was Uncle Paul-Marie’ s house in here. 
He and Jean — Jean is my father, you know — ^they 
quarrelled. When uncle died his house and garden 
fell to father. Jean never allowed anyone to live 
here. He would not even talk about it. Once when 
I was a tiny wee girl I was playing in our garden 
under a vine that grows against the wall, right there. 
I found some loose bricks and picked them out until 
I made a hole large enough to squeeze through. 

At first I was afeard of the garden, it was so big 
and lonely and silent — ^bigger than the whole world ; 
and it must be full of dreadful things, I thought. But 
nothing ever harmed me, and no one ever came. 
The birds and the rabbits were quite gentle. We 
were good friends then, but now they do not know 
me. And the fountain, it was very nice to — to— to 
play in. 

“For the longest while I never dared go near the 
house ; grown-up people were afraid of that j even 
men would not pass it at night. They said evil 
spirits bide in there, but that’s foolish, isn’t it? ” 

Murad felt a new interest kindling in his heart at 
the earnestness of this woman with the serious eyes of 
a child. 

“Really and truly there are no such things as evil 
spirits, are there?” Gabrielle insisted upon an an- 
swer. Murad bowed his turbaned head, gravely 
agreeing that ’ twas folly to believe in ghosts. 

“I’m so glad. Sometimes it seemed most scary in 
there. One day when it was very bright I went 
133 


GABRIELLE 


up close to that big door and listened. The cotton- 
wood leaves rustled and made a noise like barefoot 
children pattering around. My heart beat so loudly 
I could not hear anything else. I peeped in at the 
window ; something moved, and I — I ran away.^^ 

“ Then you are afraid of ghosts? he asked. 

No, not exactly afraid ,* I did not believe in them, 
but I might have been mistaken. Mother Louise 
says the wisest person is apt to be wrong sometimes. 
And I was more apt to be mistaken than grown-up 
people — do you understand ? 

It is very clear,” he admitted. 

Gabrielle looked at him and laughed : ^ ^ I thought 
you were a spirit at first. ’ ^ 

And I thought you were one when I ” He 

stopped himself again. And they both laughed. 

never did tell anybody about the hole in the 
wall. I found it all by myself and kept it all to my- 
self. At the convent one is supposed to confess 
every little thing one does — ^but I always managed to 
forget about the garden. A girl should keep some- 
thing to herself. She ought to have something for 
her very own — do you not agree?” Gabrielle fixed 
her blue eyes upon him so earnestly that Murad 
comprehended the vital importance of his decision. 
He made no haste j he pondered. 

Yes,” he finally decided most judicially j “ ’twas 
proper. You are entitled to meditate upon it alone.” 

^^Any way, I never told.” Eight or wrong, she 
had done it, and there was a defiant note of impeni- 
tence in her voice. 

rejoice that you have kept the garden sacred.” 
Murad spoke most seriously, feeling that she would 
134 


WHO ARE YOU 

understand him. You have never found anything 
else in here?” 

‘^Nothing, except the trees, the flowers, the foun- 
tain — these wild creatures — and you.” 

What do you count me — a tree, a flower, a wild 
creature, or what ? ’ ^ 

“At first I thought you a ghost — now I do not 
know,” she answered frankly. “I have been try- 
ing to think. You said I was a part of the garden, 
why not you f ” 

“Why not? So be it.” Murad did not smile ; his 
face was very sober. Gabrielle began to wonder what 
else she might say, when Murad looked up and asked : 

“Did you bring the red-bird^ s dinner?” 

“ The red-bird^s dinner ? ” she gasped. 

“Yes; you promised him on yesterday; you 
should keep your promises, even to a bird. ^ ’ 

“ Where were you? ” 

“ At my window, there.” 

Gabrielle glanced hastily at the house, and for the 
first time observed that a window was open, although 
the vines clung close about it. 

“You were in that window watching me ?” 

Murad inclined his head. Her swift eyes swept 
his face. She might as well have searched the 
unblinking face of the desert. She looked again at 
the window, then at the fountain — her eyes bounded 
back and forth like a tennis ball from one to the 
other. “Could he have seen?” she thought, and 
her very finger-tips grew cold. 

There were the cannas, they were tall and thick — 
and the willows. But there were gaps between the 
cannas, wide gaps, frightfully wide. Gabrielle^ s 
135 


GABRIELLE 


courage wavered j blood rushed to her cheeks, deep- 
ening into the unrivalled scarlet of the bird. 

Her thoughts were an open book to Murad, clearer 
than the crystal globe upon his table. Yet he did 
not smile. He reassured her by a blank uncompre- 
hending face and began speaking of the sea, a matter 
which always catches the interest of a child. 

?Tis good,^^ he said quietly, ^Ho set foot upon 
the ground again after so many weeks on board a ship. 
^Tis a goodly sun you have, like unto my own. Here 
are pomegranates and oranges, the cypress yonder, 
the palms and the Syrian roses. Truly I shall not 
feel that I sojourn in the land of strangerhood.’^ He 
talked on in a low tone so that Gabrielle might 
recover her composure. 

Gabrielle leaned over, her cheek upon her hand, 
and looked down to keep her eyes from meeting his. 
Her cheek was very red. When she took her 
knuckles away Murad saw the bars of pink and white 
that ran across her cheek. He watched the delicious 
color creep in and fill the pallid spaces. When the 
color had spread itself evenly, Gabrielle glanced up 
and ventured, ‘ Wou come from a far land ? 

‘ ^ Y ery far, ’ ’ he answered. ‘ ‘ A land that lieth in the 
throbbing heart of the sun. Many oceans roll between, 
and mountains, and deserts, and fierce tribes.’^ 

Do the people wear dresses like yours ? Oh ! I 
know ! I know ! I have been trying ever so hard to 
think. You look just like the pictures of the wise men 
who followed the star and found the Saviour. They 
took Him gold and frankincense and myrrh — you 
have heard of that ? There is a picture of it at the 
convent.’^ 


136 


WHO ARE YOU 


Murad’s eyes changed not, nor sparkled. “ Seven- 
teen centuries are as nothing in the East,” he 
answered ; a ripple on the ocean of Eternity. Men 
dress much the same.” 

^^And do you really live there? There’s where 
the Garden of Eden is, and l^azareth, arid Egypt — 
and everything. Tell me of it?” Gabrielle clasped 
her hands about her knees and drew closer to 
him, with the thirst of a child who begs for a fairy 
story. 

And do you know real people like that? People 
who ride on camels, and wear funny dresses — and — 

and — and I thought they were just pictures.” 

Gabrielle laughed j she had the dimmest idea as to 
what these indefinite ^^ands” of hers might signify. 

Murad replied in quite as serious a tone : There 
are many camels at my home j and many people who 
dress like the magi who sought the prophet of your 
religion.” 

Gabrielle’ s lips parted in wonderment. These 
marvels had been related to her, and she believed 
them — one must not question in matters of faith. 
But she had never connected the idea of real people 
with those sweet myths of her church. The people 
in these pictures were every whit as bodiless as per- 
fumes from the censers. Here was a man who knew 
these far countries, one who lived amongst these 
strange peoples. He was sitting beside her in the 
fiesh. She longed to run and tell Mother Louise. 

^^ow tell me all about it ? ” She closed her lips and 
opened her ears. 

Tell you about what ? ” 

Everything.” 


137 


GABRIELLE 


would take a long, long while j there is much 
in the East.’^ 

“Tell me some of it, then. If you do not finish 
to-day I shall come again to-morrow and hear the 
rest.^^ Gabrielle moved closer to him, as she used 
to move closer when Sister Therese began narrating 
her wonderful stories. Murad was sorely at a loss. 
Never before had he been called upon for a story, 
and given so wide a range. 

Suddenly the little cracked bell of the convent 
began to jangle. Gabrielle sprang to her feet. “ Oh 
dear ! I must run. Margot is already at the door. 
She is never late. Isn’t it provoking! But you’ll 
tell me of it to-morrow. Yes, I shall be sure to 
come.” 

She had already taken the first unwilling steps 
down the path when Murad rose and followed. 

“Wait,” he said. “You will come to-morrow!” 

“Yes,” she answered. 

“You will speak to no one of me! Do you 
promise!” 

“Yes.” She gave her word and Murad knew from 
those clear blue eyes that she would keep it. They 
walked on in silence to the leafy curtain through 
which she always disappeared. 

“ This is the place!” he asked, beginning to part 
the vine. 

“Yes,” Gabrielle replied awkwardly j “but you 
must come no farther. The breach is so very small 
that — that — you must go away.” 

Murad went away. He did not look back. He 
did not smile until she had gone. Then he went back 
to the bench and smiled many times. 

138 


CHAPTER XIII 

I SHALL COME 


Gabrielle spent a troubled night, waking and 
sleeping by feverish turns, a night of mysteries and 
delicious wonderment. Once when a tiny girl she had 
come almost face to face with Santa Claus, and now 
she felt the same creepy sensation — half hanging back, 
half unconquerable desire to push ahead. The night 
passed on and left her with a jumble of ideas, nothing 
vivid except a dream. 

Gabrielle dreamed that a door had suddenly ap- 
peared in the wall of her convent cell. She stretched 
out her hand to open it, possessed by some inexpli- 
cable madness. Mother Louise stood beside her, speak- 
ing as God spoke to those in Eden : Touch it not j it 
is the Door of Knowledge.’^ But Gabrielle threw open 
the door, and behold ! a blood-red heaven overhung 
the earth, blazing with the fire of uncounted sunsets. 
In the center, seated upon a cloud, Murad beckoned 
her. The wondrous power of his eyes lifted Gabrielle 
to a place beside him — which seemed most natural 
and proper in a dream. 

Beneath her lay the outspread world, the seas and 
the cities j all their wisdom opened to GabrieUe as in 
a book. All the fire and all the light which filled the 
universe came from that glittering star on Murad^s 
breast. She watched it, transfixed. Slowly, ray by 
139 


GABRIELLE 


ray, every trail of light returned from the uttermost 
heavens to hide again in its creator. The star glowed 
intensely, beyond the strength of eye to gaze upon it. 
The glory of the sunset faded, and night fell — darkness 
intense. 

Then Murad did a singular thing, and Gabrielle 
saw him do it. He began picking flakes of light from 
the star on his breast and pinning them one by one 
against the heavens, as one might pin bits of tinsel 
against a curtain. She watched him until he had 
wrought a fine mosaic in the dome above his head. 
He formed the flecks of light into one harmonious 
design which had a meaning that she could read and 
understand. Nothing was left to chance, nothing 
happened by accident j all had their places according 
to forewritten destiny. 

Then, beneath the glimmer of a million new-born 
worlds, Gabrielle gazed at Murad. She grew dizzy 
and blinded, for straightway all of wisdom became 
hers. The secret springs of life lay bare, and never 
had woman looked upon them. 

Gabrielle trembled in her sleep, and when she 
waked the sun streamed across her pillow. She closed 
her eyes again, but the dream was gone. Throughout 
the morning she brooded over what she had seen in 
the garden, and what she had dreamed, mingling the 
fact and the fancy until both were merged in a 
common mistiness. 

At the noon hour Gabrielle hesitated to pass the 
breach in the wall, feeling uncertain about what she 
would find on the other side. In the make-believes 
of childhood she had often paused at this breach, 
thrilling with the delight of anticipated danger. A 
140 


I SHALL COME 


bear might spring from behind a hedge — a fairy might 
step out of a magnolia blossom — anything might hap- 
pen in that garden. With her heart beating very fast 
Gabrielle crept through the wall and parted the vines 
on the other side. 

Oh ! she gasped, and drew back. 

Murad stood before her, motionless, with folded 
arms and raiment whiter than the sunshine which 
surrounded him. Turban and tunic and heron 
feather, all were white ; shirt and sandals and cord 
about his waist — all were white. I^ot even in her 
dream had his eyes seemed blacker ; not even in her 
dream had the star shone so bright. 

“ Oh ! she exclaimed, then caught her breath and 
smiled. 

“ I awaited you,’^ he said, as if that were all. Be- 
fore he could unfold his arms Gabrielle stepped out 
and moved towards him, still obeying the blind 
impulse of her dream. 

“Greeting, my child. He bowed gravely, then 
his eyes twinkled. “Did you bring the cardinal his 
dinner? 

“Cardinal?’^ 

“Yes, on the day before yesterday you named him 
so 5 a pretty fancy. 

Again the red flush of discomfort trickled across 
Gabrielle^ s cheeks. Again she glanced uneasily 
from the fountain to the window. “!N'o,^^ she stam- 
mered. 

“Then he shall dine with me — with us.^^ Murad 
produced a ship’s biscuit which he broke in halves, 
scattering a portion on the ground. 

“The truth is,” Gabrielle acknowledged, “you 
141 


GABRIELLE 


promised to tell me of those strange lands beyond the 
sea. I forgot the little red father.’^ 

They passed on together side by side toward the 
bench which rested in the cool sweet shadow of the 
pine. The shadows were dim and brown and restful. 
Gabrielle loved the spot most dearly. A glint of 
unusual color beneath the tree fascinated Gabrielle’ s 
eye and drew her on, as a handkerchief on a stick 
attracts the antelope. She darted forward, delighted 
at the rug of varied hues which Murad had spread 
beside the bench. A dozen colored cushions of rich 
design were piled there for her comfort. 

^^The bench is very rough,” Murad explained. 

shall feel very grand — like a Lady Abbess 
seated on her throne.” 

Gabrielle walked cautiously around the edges of the 
rug, afraid to step upon it. Then she dropped on her 
knees and examined the quaint weave of its golden 
threads, the massing of scarlets and vivid blues and 
greens in bewildering profusion. 

^‘Sister Yeronique would be delighted!” she 
exclaimed. She works in the community room from 
morning until night making tapestry — which she 
never finishes, poor grumpy old soul. And she’s for- 
ever planning some novel design which turns out 
exactly like the others.” 

Murad strode indifferently across the rug ; Gabrielle 
trod upon it gingerly until she reached the bench. 
There she took up each cushion in its turn. 

Into Gabrielle’ s imaginings cushions like these had 
never come, cushions so glowing in color, so soft in 
texture, redolent with unknown perfumes from mys- 
terious lands. Murad watched the shifting lights 
142 


I SHALL COME 


upon her face, her gestures of rapture at the intricate 
handiwork. 

^^This rug,’^ Gabrielle ventured j ^^it must have 
taken a whole year to weave. She bent down, 
marvelling at the tireless ingenuity of the toiler. 

Murad had a gentle way about him j he set her 
right without making her feel that she was very 
ignorant, or he very wise. 

^^Time is nothing in the East, and people labor 
slowly. That rug is a family’s work for a lifetime — 
father, mother, sons and daughters. Their birth, 
death, marriage is woven into the rug. Can you not 
hear the tremor of their sighs and feel the dripping of 
their tears. Those bright reds show the ruby of 
maidens’ lips j the greens are waving palms ; the blues 
are cloudless skies. And those rich gold threads are 
happiness. It is scattered everywhere, even in the 
darkest corners.” 

GabrieUe flinched as if she had unwittingly trod 
upon the heart of a living creature. A family ! A 
lifetime ! Poor patient hands, how weary they must 
have got. N'o, I shall not step upon and destroy it.” 

Murad corrected her : If the rich do not consume 
and destroy the product of the poor, then the poor 
make no gains from their labor — they cannot eat and 
live.” 

^^Why do you not give — you who have plenty?” 

Murad shook his head. ^^’Tis not wise to give. 
Let him eat who earns. It is decreed that all must 
work — a wise provision to keep us out of mischief. A 
prudent sovereign supplies his poor with employment 
whereby they may earn. He feeds not the idle and 
the vicious, who are dangers to humankind. Nay, nay, 
143 


GABRIELLE 


child, look not at the rug and brim your eyes with 
tears. This rug has given food and drink, raiment, 
occupation and happiness to many of God’s creatures. 
Come, take your place on the bench, and let us talk.” 

Gabrielle glanced at him. The shadows vanished 
as though she had lifted her face to the sun. Obeying 
and trusting she moved across the rug and reseated 
herself upon the bench. 

^^And what is this?” she asked, taking up a 
cluster of brilliant-colored plumes, larger than ever 
woman had seen before. 

A fan,” he answered ; “the day grows sultry.” 

^ ^ A fan ? And are these feathers ? — how strange. ’ ’ 

“Yes, of the ostrich.” 

^ ^ I saw one such feather once j a young officer had 
it in his cap. He came to visit his sister and I peeped 
at him through the lattice. But that feather was not 
long and graceful like these. What a beautiful bird 
he must be ! ” 

“No, he’s quite an ill-looking fellow — especially 
when his feathers are stripped from him.” 

“I should think so,” Gabrielle remarked placidly. 

She settled back on the bench, piling the pillows 
around her and resting her sturdy shoes upon a gor- 
geous hassock of green and gold. Then she amused 
herself waving the fan slowly with the air of a grande 
marquise. 

^ ^ There are our fans. ’ ’ Gabrielle pointed to a clump 
of palmettoes. “All we need do is to cut them, trim 
them round the edges and let them dry. Isn’t it 
comical : your fans grow on a bird and ours grow on a 
bush.” She threw back her head and laughed 
merrily. 


144 


I SHALL COME 


like yours ever so miicli better, it feels so soft 
and caressing when it brushes my cheek. 

^^Yes,^’ Murad laughed, and his teeth gleamed; 
“I see that my fan is already stealing peaches in your 
orchard.’^ 

“ What do you mean by that? 

“ So says the poet in the East when pink kisses be 
stolen unawares. 

What a pretty idea,’^ assented Gabrielle. 

She glanced down at her plain dress amongst those 
magnificent cushions ; her sturdy little shoes were 
digging their heels into cloth of gold and wondrous 
filagree. Gabrielle thought of her house-knit stock- 
ings and wondered if they showed. The slow- waving 
fan kept passing to and fro before her eyes. 

For a moment she felt uneasy, considering the 
roughness of her raiment beside that of Murad. But 
upon so bright a face as Gabrielle’ s there could rest 
no shadow. 

Her old friend, the rabbit, hopped out of the bush, 
threw his long ears forward and fixed his eyes upon 
her. ^^Well!” she laughed; ^^why do you stare? 
Strange things happen in this garden. Oh, dear ! 
what a shame it is the sisters cannot see me now ! 
How their eyes would open !” Gabrielle swung the 
fan outward ; the rabbit vanished. 

Let’s pretend — it’s such fun to pretend in the 
garden — ^let’s make-believe I’m sitting in the sacristy, 
where everybody gathers from the four corners of the 
convent. Here is Sister Confians, bristling with Greek 
and Latin — we made mirth of her because she never 
could understand a jest. She’d stalk past as if her 
knees were made of glass and would break if she bent 
10 145 


GABRIELLE 


them. How drolly she’d look at me j and I’d be 
unconscious as a princess who had been used to fans 
like this all her life. 

^^And Sister Gertrude — she’s a regular madcap, 
with the fairest hair and overflowing with wit — Sister 
Gertrude would laugh at my grand airs, and show her 
teeth — the most beautiful teeth in the world. I’d 
nod to her — like this.” Gabrielle bowed her head 
in absurd condescension. 

I can imagine how tremendously they would chat- 
ter. Old Yeronique would drop the chasuble she’s 
always mending — and can never find again without 
her glasses. Sister Agatha would limp in on her 
stick— one leg is too short j but she’s subject to 
spasms and rather crazy, so I won’t laugh at her. Oh, 
dear ! what a rare frolic it would be ! ” 

Murad veiled his amusement behind the steadiest 
of faces. ^^I thought the convent rules were more 
severe,” he suggested. 

^^They are j but we play all kinds of pranks, such 
as blowing out lamps, knocking at doors, talking with 
the novices at night and eating their preserves. If 
Mother Louise caught us we paid dearly.” Gabrielle 
straightened up and laid aside the fan and almost 
whispered : Once we did a dreadfully wicked thing. 
We poured ink into the holy water at the door of the 
choir. The nuns go to matins two hours after midnight 
and as they know them by heart there is no light 
except a lamp which throws a faint glimmer over the 
holy- water vessel. They therefore used the holy water 
without perceiving the state in which they put them- 
selves. When matins were finished and they saw each 
other so drolly streaked with ink they laughed aloud 
146 


I SHALL COME 


and interrupted the service. The affair made a great 
noise. Sister Conflans rated the class roundly and 
left us all trembling. Thereafter she put herself to 
great pains running down the culprits, discovering 
only me. As I kept my tongue and told on no others 
I was ordered to kneel in my nightcap the following 
Sunday in the middle of the choir during High Mass 
as an apology to the sisters for having diverted myself 
at their expense. Then, as I was also answerable to 
God for the prayers which had not been said that 
day — matins having been curtailed — I was forced to 
stand during recreation and recite aloud the seven 
penitential psalms. 

Sister Conflans and Mother Louise had great argu- 
ment concerning the affair. Sister Conflans main- 
tained it was an act of awful impiety, tampering with 
the holy- water vessel, and was for sending me away 
altogether. But good Mother Louise answered that 
the deed was dark enough, as it savored of ink, yet 
’twas only a childish freak after all — which made me 
feel at ease. Was it not wicked?^’ 

“Exceedingly wicked,’^ Murad answered. “And 
no bolt came from heaven ? ” 

Gabrielle glanced at him uncertainly ; she could 
not be sure that he made sport of her. 

“How long were you in the convent?’^ Murad 
inquired, just to keep the girl talking. When her 
tongue ran slow, he started it again. 

“I was in the convent nineteen years — all of my 
life.^' 

“And you have never lived among other people"? 
I^ever had friends, neighbors — never been to balls or 
seen the theatre?^’ 


147 


GABRIELLE 


but Sister Tberese has told me of them. I 
know all about them. Sister Therese once spent a 
month in nursing Madame la Duchesse de St. Aignan 
in Eue de Grenelle, Faubourg St. Germain. That is 
a very grand place — about the grandest in the world, I 
suppose.” 

Murad nodded amiably. He knew the Hotel 
St. Aignan indifferently well, as the sister of this 
same grand lady made open overtures to gain his 
attention. 

‘^So you observe,” Gabrielle remarked com- 
placently j am not as ignorant as you might 
suppose.” 

Murad said nothing. He wondered what Gabrielle 
would think could she guess a tithe of what went on 
in that stately mansion. 

“ Should you not like to see the world? ” he asked. 

“I shall see it all someday — every bit of it.” 

Gabrielle was mightily occupied with the sweep and 
flutter of her fan, delighted at its curling tendrils 
of blue and pink. ^^But I^d liefer be sitting right 
here and see all those novices in the convent catch 
a glimpse of you. E^o ! Ko ! ^ ^ she exclaimed, and 
sprang up eagerly. “You must not be sitting here ; 
you must be hid behind that tree. If they saw you 
they’d drop their eyes and go trooping past — so — ” 
she imitated them with a gesture comically demure. 
“But they’d be dying to look at you all the time; 
and they’d look, too, when your back was turned.” 

“ Do no men ever come to the convent? ” 

“ O dear, no ; not one. I saw an officer once, only 
once ; that’s what they have the convent for — to keep 
people away.” 


148 


I SHALL COME 


must be as secluded as a harem/’ Murad 
observed thoughtlessly. 

^ ^ What is a harem 1 ’ 

This question had been asked of Murad many 
times in Paris by demoiselles more curious than 
modest. These he had no difficulty in answering. 

Gabrielle inquired and went on waving her fan. 
Had he replied that a harem was a species of elephant 
she could never have doubted. 

It is a place where ladies live in the East.” 

^^Then it’s like a convent. Tell me aU about it.” 
The motion of Gabrielle’ s fan furnished an indolent 
accompaniment to her voice. Her direct gaze discon- 
certed Murad. Twice or thrice he opened his lips, 
but his tongue did not run very glib. 

“Tell me all about the rules?” she questioned. 
“Convents are very different — ^the TJrsulines, the 
Cistercians — and a lot of them. Some are stricter 
than others ; it all depends on what class you are in, 
the red, blue or white class. Of course the white- 
class young ladies must be very pious — they are so 
busy preparing for their first communion. Do they 
have tedious prayers all day long in a harem? Do 
they ring bells and make one do a great number of 
things that one never wants to do? Do they have 
some stupid rule for every hour of the day?” The 
pink-and-blue fan waved nonchalantly in the silence 5 
it was embarrassingly still in the garden. 

Murad glanced helplessly at the girl, then replied : 
“Ho, I do not believe they have such rules j it is 
quite unlike a convent.” 

“What is it like, then ? Are you a patron ? ” 

Murad stared : “A patron ? ’ ’ 

149 


GABRIELLE 


Monsieur le Due de St. Aignan is patron of four 
convents ; so Sister Therese says. I thought maybe 

’’ Gabrielle caught sight of Murad’s face, so 

utterly blank that she burst into the merriest of 
laughs : “Of course you do not know. How absurd 
to be asking a man about convents and religion. 
Mother Louise says that men have no religion. Of 
course you know nothing about it.” 

“But I know a story,” he suggested as a means to 
cause diversion, “of a woman who asked too many 
questions.” 

“ Oh, tell it me ; I was elected story-teller for our 
class. I invented all the incidents and they were 
most curious.” 

“Destiny so willed it that when the Moon of 
Ramazan was at its full I fared upon a journey and 
crossed the river Euphrates, a very holy river in 
your religion, for it flows through the Garden of 
Eden ” 

Gabrielle opened her eyes very wide. 

“And have you really been there?” she inter- 
rupted. “I shall tell Mother Louise at once. She 
must come and listen.” 

Murad arose ; a shadow clouded his face, and both 
forgot his story. He bent forward and looked 
steadily into Gabrielle’ s eyes. “My child, you 
promised me yesterday to tell no one — ^have you 
forgot?” 

“ No ! ” She shook her head. 

“ I have been most anxious.” He spoke earnestly. 
“I should have allowed no one to learn that I am 
in this garden. My life hangs on the snapping 
thread of silence ; a word may break it. You must 
150 


I SHALL COME 


tell no one, except your father ; he knows it already. 
Can you keep my secret ? I have trusted you ; I am 
your friend He held out his hand and Gabrielle 
clasped it frankly. 

“Are you in danger ? She touched his robe with 

her free hand and looked him in the face. 

“I know not what Fate hath decreed concerning 
me.’^ 

Her white face, upturned to him, betrayed unwonted 
weight of trouble. 

“Can I do aught she asked. 

For answer he placed his finger lightly on her lips 
and smiled. 

^ ^ Is that all ? ^ ^ She seemed disappointed. ^ ^ I shall 
do that. I have already kept one secret — the garden. 

“Then keep this. It shall be your second secret — 
yours and mine together — our secret. 

Gabrielle sat there wondering how any evil thing 
could threaten such a man. She ached to ask him 
questions, but there was something in his face which 
forbade a meddling with his affairs. So she only 
said : ^ ^ Last night when I sat talking with my father 
I wished I might tell him of you — ^but did not. He 
has no suspicion that I have ever seen the inside of 
this garden in my whole life. Is it not singular how 
we may sit side by side with people and know 
nothing of what they think ? That is why I wanted 
the garden. I wanted something all to myself.’^ 

“Then you must come every day,^’ he told her. 
“ The garden is your playground. You shall be 
quite alone. 

“But I like to talk with you,^^ Gabrielle objected. 

She had risen and moved over beside the fountain j 
151 


GABRIELLE 


her quick eyes glanced from the window to the 
cannas, and back again. The cannas were very thick 
and very tall. She wondered if they were thick 
enough and tall enough. But the cannas told her 
nothing. Murad^s impassive features told her 
nothing. She could not ask. “Oh, dear ! she 
sighed; “I must go; see, that is my clock. 
Gabrielle pointed to the shadow of the pine which 
was beginning to fall across the fountain. ^ ^ I must 
always run when the shadow reaches the edge of this 
coping. That allows me time to open our front door 
for Margot. Yesterday she was cross because I kept 
her waiting.” 

“You will come again to-morrow?” he asked, 
catching her by the sleeve until she had promised. 
“I shall tell you stories. I have some trinkets in 
my chests. And I am — very lonely.” 

She stood fingering her bonnet-strings. “ Yes, yes ; 
I shall come.” The answer faltered somewhat as a 
tiny bell of warning tinkled in her soul. His smile 
reassured her. She nodded her head positively. “I 
shall come.” 


CHAPTER XIV 

THE FOLIO 


[No less prompt than the snn, at noon Murad came 
to wait beside the vines. 

“ Off had the Royal Hawk, the Sun, 

Flown from the Orient’s hand 
And lighted in the West.” 

He glanced upward at the mid-day sun of 
Louisiana and repeated the first lines of XejatFs 
stirring song. But his thoughts were not of the 
chase. He remembered not the days when he had 
led the circling horsemen, his falcon on his wrist. 
His blood thrilled not with the ride, the neighing of 
steeds, the casting-off of hooded hawks. Neither did 
his pulse beat quick as, when rising in his stirrups, 
he watched his noble bird sweep down upon her 
quarry. These thoughts were of the past, buried in 
his reckless boyhood, and in this garden Murad could 
not think of what was past. The very ground he 
trod palpitated with life. A virile sun beat down 
upon the fecund earth, throbbing with motherhood. 
Nature filled the air with natal perfumes, with burst- 
ing buds and the murmur of new-born creatures. 
Not of yesterday did the garden whisper to Murad, 
but of to-day, to-day, and with seductive promises of 
to-morrow. 


153 


GABRIELLE 


Grosjean had departed with his boats at sunrise. 
Gabrielle trifled at every occupation that idleness 
could invent, and flnished nothing. 

do not know what to do,’^ she sighed. ‘^Oh 
yes, I shall go out and play with the chicks.’^ 

The old nurse laughed : ^‘You think the days are 
very long and cannot wait the week until he comes. 
But once you’ve packed yourself off to France you’ll 
cry your eyes out when the vesper bells are ringing, 
because you will be homesick for us all.” 

Gabrielle tossed her head, then stopped short : A 
week! A week!” she thought. ^^A week, and — 
what then? Some one would come and take her 

away — from all she loved — from ” She leaned 

against a post and gazed upon their tiny garden. 

^^Wait the week — the week — ^the week,” she kept 
repeating to herself. Presently she went walking 
up and down the paths, swinging her hands. 

Gabrielle was young. A humming-bird hovered at 
the honeysuckle ; a butterfly passed 5 a chick fell into 
the drinking- trough. Many interesting things hap- 
pened. Idleness, the mischief-breeder, began suggest- 
ing a thousand ways in which she might beguile the 
time. 

She glanced towards the breach in the wall, took a 
step or two, and shook her head. ^^How if he were 
not there ; but he might be minded to peep from his 
window.” 

GabrieUe longed for the cool waters of the fountain, 
for the magnolia leaves that floated on it. How deli- 
cious and drowsy it was. But she durst not venture. 
If the cannas were only thicker, or the willows taller, 
or that horrid old window were only shut. She 
154 


THE FOLIO 

stamped her foot : He has no right to be there. It 

is my garden.’’ 

With an aggrieved toss of the head she started 
towards the house and stopped — Gabrielle was always 
starting and stopping. Her face lighted, the idea 
was most brilliant. ^ ^ Oh ! I know what I shall 
do ! ” She rushed through the door with such energy 
that Margot looked up from her mending. 

^^What a fidget you are; never still for two mo- 
ments together.” 

Gabrielle made a wicked grimace which could not 
harm a blind woman, and went clattering up the stair. 

In one of the upper rooms there rested an old 
book-case which ’twere shame to leave unexplored. 
Amongst those musty books she spent the morning. 
They were much nicer than the books permitted to 
pupils at the convent. And there were pictures. 
What delightful pictures, and how puzzling ! Many 
times Gabrielle paused with her chin in her hands, 
wondering what the people in the pictures could pos- 
sibly be doing. Often she gasped and looked behind 
her to be sure that nobody was spying. Gabrielle 
did not flush nor feel embarrassed ; she simply 
wondered why people, especially young girls, should 
dress in garlands — and little else. There was no 
fountain that Gabrielle could see. Had there been a 
fountain she might have understood. Many times in 
the garden when the wistaria hung down in drooping 
clusters Gabrielle had — but that was long ago, before 
he came into the garden and spoiled it. 

It seemed a very interesting game these girls were 
playing in the picture, with wreaths of flowers hung 
about them. 


155 


GABRIELLE 


What a queer-looking sheep it was in the middle 
of the ring, with the head like an old man, blowing 
on a long pipe. And such wicked eyes — they made 
Gabrielle shiver. 

Suddenly she laughed : Maybe it’s a — what did 
he call it? — a harem.” Gabrielle laughed again at 
her own folly, there being naught else to laugh at, 
and a young girl needs to laugh as she needs to 
breathe. The pictures grew stupid. She laid them 
aside and went slowly into her own room. 

The house was exceedingly still. Gabrielle had 
much time to brood, and many things to ponder on. 
Most of all she looked at the sun and listened for 
Margot’s departure. 

As one grows used to a sorrow if it be present 
always, Gabrielle gradually became reconciled to the 
beautiful garments which had been sent out from 
France. She even accustomed herself to handling 
one or two of the least formidable dresses, and won- 
dered how they would suit her. She spread three of 
them on the bed and admired, whilst the sun climbed 
steadily to noon. 

“I shall put on the white one,” she decided; 
think I can manage that. His silks make me 
ashamed of this gray gown.” 

She put on a simple dress of white, the gift of 
Sister Therese, which became her uncommonly well. 
When she had girded a lavender belt about her waist, 
and fastened a passion-flower in her hair, Gabrielle 
felt extremely conscious of her flashy attire. Never 
before had she worn aught but gray. 

shall wear it,” she said, vaguely uneasy lest 
it be not right. Having once decided, she passed 
156 


THE FOLIO 


down the stair and went into the garden. It was 
noon. 

It happened in this wise that GabrieUe waited on 
one side the wall whilst Murad paced back and forth 
upon the other, each watching the sun. 

GabrieUe came to him with a smile, a dimple in 
the cheek and a delicious air of uncertainty. For 
GabrieUe was not so very sure about her dress. It 
was a trifle long, and did catch in the weeds. 

When she first met his eye GabrieUe felt like 
shrinking back, becoming suddenly conscious that 
her dress was much thinner about the arms, the 
throat and bosom than any she had ever worn. She 
did not realize this untU it was too late. But the 
dress must be right, or Sister Therese would not have 
made it so. 

She began talking rapidly to keep him from notic- 
ing the flower in her hair and — the other things. Yet 
aU the whUe she wondered if he thought the dress 
suited her, and why he said nothing about it. 

^ ^ I was so foolish yesterday ; I talked so much I 
never gave you a chance to teU me of your country. 
To-day I shall sit as stiU as a white-class girl 
preparing for communion. 

Murad contrived to lure her on by another path so 
the thick foliage of a fig-tree concealed the surprise he 
had prepared. He was talking with studied lack of 
care when they passed the fig-tree and the vista of the 
pines spread out before them. 

GabrieUe halted and stared. There in the bare 
brown spaces underneath the pine a marvel had 
transpired — a miracle appeared. She clasped her 
hands across her bosom and gazed upon a dazzling 
157 


GABRIELLE 


pavilion of striped silk. It was round, with a hun- 
dred impertinent peaks and pinnacles. Stripes of red 
ran parallel up the sides, drawing to a center at the 
top, like so many ribbons dangling from a May-pole. 
At every little peak there perched a flag, with sym- 
bols woven in gorgeous silk. The still air set no flag 
a-flutter. The pavilion rose before her, perfect in 
every detail, yet motionless as a mirage tent painted 
against the skies. A beautiful dead thing it seemed 
until the shimmering sides went pulsing in and out, 
drawing its breath of life from the drowsy garden 
perfumes. The pavilion lay panting in the sun like 
one of those gaudy lizards which flaunt their poisoned 
colors amidst the ruins of Baalbec. 

Oh ! Gabrielle exclaimed and turned to Murad, 
doubting whether he too had seen the vision. She 
stood bewildered, for this wonder was in the garden, 
in the glade beneath the pine j this change of changes 
had come into the garden, where changes never came. 

Beyond the widely open door there were couches 
for indolence, and rugs to fend away the earth. There 
were urns of scented waters, and a brazier wherein 
burned the sweet-smelling aloewood. A column of 
smoke rose into the air, swaying like the body of a 
dancing odalisque, and hiding its head in the branches 
of the pine. 

She saw musical instruments oddly shaped, some 
scattered books, and scarves that seemed cut from 
jagged rainbows. 

Gabrielle moved forward step by step and peered 
at these wonders. Mutely she turned and questioned 
Murad with her eyes. 

Yes,^^ he answered, bending his head and smiling j 
158 


THE FOLIO 


^ ^ I have imitated King Jan ben Jan. One becomes 
lonely withmaught to do.’^ Murad nodded towards 
the shining tent, the wondrous censers and the richly 
graven urns, as if it were quite a matter of course to 
bring such toys into the wilderness. 

Who is King Jan — what did you say ? Gabrielle 
asked, with roving eyes that wandered into every nook 
and recess of the tent. 

^^King of the Genii ; he governed the world before 
Adam came. ’Twas he that built the glorious 
Chilminar in a night.’’ 

You must tell me about him — ^but not now — not 
now.” 

Gabrielle kept her eyes upon the pavilion, more 
than half expecting it to vanish into the pine-tree like 
the aloe smoke. 

What a simpleton I am,” she said ; “but I have 
never seen anything in my whole life — really I have 
not. May I look at this ? ” 

“ It is yours,” he answered, standing to one side that 
she might enter into her own. 

Gabrielle spent her wonderment in a thousand excla- 
mations — the silks were so passing fine — the ropes were 
so intricately woven — the smoke smelled so sweet — 
the urn bore such rare device in golden marquetry. 

She marvelled at the couch, which was all built up 
of cushions. Then she made bold to push aside a 
filmy curtain which seemed to hang as a confidante to 
beauty’s sighs — to brush the soft brown cheeks of 
Eastern women. 

“What an odd bed! It looks cosey enough, but 
those queer animals in the tapestry would frighten 
me out of my wits should I waken in the night.” 

159 


GABRIELLE 


A lamp of filagree sparkled like a star above the 
couch’s canopy, its perfumed light sifting downward 
like the intangible mists which cling to the breasts of 
Jordan. 

Gabrielle’s idea of luxury was measured by the 
room of the Lady Abbess. She regarded this couch 
as something beyond the possibilities of human use. 

^^It looks grand enough to be the bed of a king,” 
she suggested. Gabrielle’s notions of a king were also 
vague. 

“ It was the couch of a sultana ; ” Murad corrected 
himself instantly, ^^or so ’twas said by the rascally 
trader from whom I purchased it.” Murad put him- 
self to needless trouble, Gabrielle being so occupied 
by a quaint brazier that she had not heard him. 

There were the books, wonderful books, books that 
she touched reverently with the tips of her fingers. 

have read the Lives of the Saints,” she volun- 
teered. May I look at this?” She began untying 
the silken cords which bound a large folio. She tried 
to open it across her knee, but the book was too heavy 
and awkward. 

shall take it out on the bench where the light 
is better.” 

Murad let her struggle out with the huge folio 
under her arm, and watched her settle down for a 
comfortable exploration of the mysteries it must 
contain. 

Where is my fan ? ” 

Almost before she had spoken, and quite before she 
could stop him, Murad hurried off toward the house. 

^^Come back,” she called; “I do not want it. I 
am quite cool.” 


160 


THE FOLIO 


Murad did not turn ; he had passed the pomegranate 
tree and was almost to the dial. 

^^How hard-headed he is,’’ she grumbled, doubling 
her foot underneath her — at which Mother Louise 
always scolded. 

Bravo! Bravo!” she exclaimed. ^^It’s aU 
pictures.” 

The folio contained numerous pictures, uniform in 
size and mounting, representing scenes in various 
Eastern capitals. Luckily the inscriptions were in 
French. Mecca” she read the first one, and 

Medina” the second. Then she took up the third. 

She noticed instantly that this picture differed from 
the others although it was near the same size. It was 
in fact an oil painting which by some accident had 
got into the folio. She looked to the inscription but 
could not read such outlandish characters. 

^^Whew!” she exclaimed, puckering up her lip j 

I wonder if anybody can really pronounce that.” 

Ignorant as Gabrielle was of art she could see that 
this was a masterpiece, so smooth that her fingers 
detected no roughness in the surface, and perfect to 
the minutest detail. 

It represented a throne-room or audience chamber 
in some palace. The vaulted roof was supported by 
countless columns, all of gold inlaid with jewels. 
Upon a dais sat a man of most majestic bearing, clad 
in glittering garments, with a crown about his brows. 
He looked directly at Gabrielle. His face was won- 
derfully distinct — and familiar. It gave her the un- 
accountable sensation of having seen the man before. 

His people — the chamber was crowded with them — 
knelt in reverence as before a god, touching their 
11 161 


GABRIELLE 


foreheads to the tessellated floor. None of their faces 
were visible, none were clearly drawn — ^they were a 
mere herd of humanity who counted for nothing in 
presence of their sovereign. 

There was another figure in the picture, a youth 
who stood beside the king. His softly rounded chin 
belied the military sternness with which he looked 
upon this multitude of soldiers. 

Gabrielle’s blood coursed swifter at the sight of 
these grizzled warriors proud to bend their knees 
before a youthful hero. All the martial instincts of 
a fighting race leapt into her cheeks and glittered 
from her eyes. 

She looked at him closer — closer. Her heart gave 
a great bound of excitement. His eyes ! His face ! 
His attitude! The same grave smile — “It is 
Murad ! ” she exclaimed. 

Yes, yes, there was the star upon his breast, line 
for line and gem for gem. It threw a myriad of spark- 
ling rays above that throng, just as it had lighted the 
heavens in her dream. 

The folio slipped from her knees and fell upon the 
rug, scattering its unconsidered treasures. She held 
the tell-tale picture before her eyes — eyes which 
no longer saw it. In some dim way Gabrielle was 
conscious that a great sorrow had befallen her. 

What could it mean, the secrecy of his coming? 
His presence in this garden where none guessed it? 
His air of command ? Gabrielle could not answer. 

She was still pondering the problem when Murad’s 
voice startled her, it was so close, right at her elbow. 

“Look, Gabrielle, look ! ” he said. 

She turned. In the glare of the sunlight he waved 
162 


THE FOLIO 


tile most astonishing fan that mortal eyes had ever 
beheld. Here he laughed ; be done with your 
stupid pictures. This is the Fan of the Thousand 
Eyes, made from the golden peacock, whose home is 
Paradise.’’ 

He moved the fan back and forth to show the 
splendor of its iridescent colors. 

Oh ! ” Gabrielle caught her breath sharply. It 
was at him that she stared, not at the fan. Despite 
her utmost determination she dropped her eyes to 
the picture, and raised them again to Murad’s face. 
She compared them, and the star j she grew very 
sure. 

Murad saw that her thoughts were not upon the 
scintillating present he had fetched. He stood a 
moment disappointedly. 

^^Do you not like the fan? ” he asked. 

Yes, oh yes, it is quite pretty,” she answered. 

Murad saw the folio lying open on the rug j he 
saw the picture clutched in her hand, which she made 
half an attempt to hide. He understood. 

There was no anger in his face, no reproach j but 
there was something — something very singular, and 
Gabrielle could not comprehend. 

Murad came forward gently, as a young king 
should. When he drew quite near to Gabrielle she 
involuntarily rose and made a gesture half of sorrow, 
half of reverence. She almost felt that she should 
prostrate herself like those people in the picture. 

Murad lifted his hand, as he had done at their first 
meeting. But this time he said never a word. 
Gabrielle stood before him guiltily, her eyes downcast. 
With the tip of that gorgeous fan Murad touched the 
163 


GABRIELLE 


picture and asked: ^^You found it there! In that 
folio!'' 

'^Tes." 

^ ^ You have seen ! You know ! ' ' 

''Yes." 

Murad stood silent, his arms folded, his head bent. 
The Fan of the Thousand Eyes glistened in the sun. 
The jewels flamed sleepily on his breast. Gabrielle 
tried to speak : 

"I pray you believe me j I meant not to pry into 
your secrets." Murad, by a touch upon the arm, ever 
so light, reassured the girl. 

"I did not mean to be inquisitive," she went on 
hurriedly; "I should have known there was some- 
thing unusual about you — ^but queer things happen in 
this garden. A girl never stops to think. Now I 
understand. Father conceals you here and tells me 
nothing of it because he thought I’d tell it at once. I 
should have known." 

Gabrielle had dropped back to her seat upon the 
bench. Murad stood before her, his face very grave. 

"It is the will of God," he said, "that you should 
know. Fools say accident. There is no accident. 
Nothing haps without Design. Gabrielle, that is my 
father seated on the throne, the other — you have 
guessed. I am Amurath, by the will of Allah, Sultan, 
Commander of the Faithful, Yicar of God of the two 
worlds." 

Gabrielle’ s upturned face became intensely pale. 
Each of these formidable names struck her dully on 
the heart. 

"Gabrielle," he continued, "that is all. It is very 
little. It is very much. Perhaps the future of a 
164 


THE FOLIO 


nation, perhaps nothing. ^Tis well for you to know 
that a price is on my head and thousands seek my 
blood. To whomsoever betrays me, False Mahomet 
will pour out gold beyond his dreams. 

Gabrielle lifted her steady eyes. There was no 
promise on her lips, no pledge of loyalty came tripping 
from her tongue. She was silent, utterly silent in 
heart and soul and lips. Slowly she picked the 
golden threads from out a cushion, and thought, 
and thought — more than any convent girl had ever 
thought before. 

^ ^ Murad, she said presently, ^^ever since I was a 
tiny girl I have kept the secret of this garden. And 
now that you are come to be a part of this dear place 
it shall be more sacred.” 

Murad bent down and whispered something to her. 
Then he turned and paced along the walk, his head 
bent in meditation. Gabrielle watched him. There 
were tears within her eyes, that seemed bluer now and 
immeasurably deeper, for they guarded a trust. 

Her gaze clung to his shining garments as they 
moved along those dear familiar paths, as they 
glinted in the sunlight beside the fig, as they softened 
in the shades beyond the grape. Through alternate 
shine and shadow they went into those far recesses 
where periwinkles grew. There she lost him. Where 
the magnolia leaves piled thick for many winters she 
heard the rustle of his tread again. Into all these 
places did the loyal thoughts of Gabrielle follow and 
abide with him, for he was troubled, and the fault 
was hers. 

She saw him turn in the most secluded sanctuary 
of the wood, where long gray moss hung down like the 
165 


GABRIELLE 

beards of old, old men. Thence he came straight back 
towards her. 

His eyes were calm, and blacker than any night 
which lays its curfew on the stars. Yet they glowed 
withal, from the very beauty of the faith that there 
was in him. 

^^It is so written, he said when he came up. 
“Mayhap Destiny hath sent you to walk beside me a 
trifling way so that I may see the roses — otherwise I 
might have only felt the thorns. Mayhap you walk 
with me to the end. My affair is not that of common 
men.’^ 

Gabrielle could not speak ; she did not know what 
he meant. She felt that Murad was not speaking to 
her — she being an ignorant and useless girl from the 
convent — but he was addressing a Power that con- 
trolled his fortunes. Murad spoke and acted with 
such certainty of the future that it made Gabrielle 
feel very queer. 

His brow had become smooth and white again,* 
smiles came fluttering back like returning pigeons 
to circle round his lips. 

“We are friends, you and I,’’ he said j “friends 
should be frank. Sit down j I shall tell you.^’ 


166 


CHAPTER XV 

THE TABLET OF BRASS 


Murad brushed aside the cushions, clearing a 
space upon the bench for Gabrielle. Then he deftly 
piled the pillows round her and placed a hassock 
beneath her feet. He gave not over doing this until 
he had made her most comfortable, opening her 
fingers at the last and closing them upon the handle 
of the Fan of the Thousand Eyes. Gabrielle neither 
smiled nor frowned j nor did she think. Passive as 
a child being robed for a feast, she permitted him to 
do with her as he chose. 

^^Xow,^’ he said at the very end of it all, stepping 
back a pace and seeing that there was naught more 
to be done, “now, you rest at ease. Listen.’’ 

With soul and body and eyes Gabrielle listened. 
Her breath came softer than the zephyr which idled 
amongst the roses ; yet she strove to moderate it, lest 
even that should jar upon the silence. Murad stood 
before her in the familiar attitude of her dreams. 
She almost feared him. She saw the smothered fire 
of his eyes. His chest billowed up as with a storm 
from the under seas. His voice came very low, with 
the mystic suggestions and imagery of the East. 
Gabrielle leaned forward upon the very edge of the 
bench. 

“Yes, I shall tell you,” he said. “We shall not 
167 




GABRIELLE 


be friends in truth until we have that between us 
which none others know. You and I shall be strung 
together as beads upon the thread of this, my story. 
That was my father whom you saw in the picture, 
the Sultan Mustapha, drawn by the servile hand 
which flatters princes. My mother bore him two 
children, Hassan and myself,* I was the older. She 
came of the Venetians, a Christian like yourself. 

“ Achmet, the sultanas oldest son, was of evil life, 
given to debaucheries. The sultan determined to set 
him aside and make me his heir. Therefore he sent 
me to travel in many lands and gather instruction in 
the craft of kingship. ^My son,’ said he, ^follow 
the precept of wise men, and not the evil example of 
your father.’ Thus you see me standing beside him 
in the picture j the painter thought to gain both 
credit and gold by picturing these kneeling thousands 
and bursting heavens. ’Tis well enough for such 
follies to awe the rabble j kings should be of a mind 
above them.” 

Gabrielle listened, with fingers that clutched the fan 
so tightly it stirred not, neither did it tremble. 

“Four years I sojourned in Frankestan, or as you 
call it, France. There my brother Hassan joined 
me, son of the same mother, gentle, beautiful and 
brave. God ordained it that at this time my father 
died, whether by the knife or the poison cup, I know 
not. Foul rumors reached me even at so great a 
distance. Achmet seized the throne and became 
sultan. He summoned me at once to Stamboul, writ- 
ing a brotherly letter in which he voiced his desire 
to profit by my learning. My brother Hassan and 
myself fared upon the homeward way, doubting not 
168 


THE TABLET OF BRASS 


that the nation would choose me instead of Achmet 
to be their sultan. In my heart I meant to treat him 
generously, according him the government of a 
province with fitting revenue. 

“Though we travelled privily, no sooner had 
Hassan and myself set foot in Stamboul than we were 
seized and hurried by devious ways beyond the city 
gates. Within an ancient caravanserai we found 
many horsemen armed and waiting. Under strict 
guard we set out, none speaking, yet all riding hard. 
Day and night, without ceasing we fared on, the sun 
rising always in our faces. 

Gabrielle listened — thirsty as the deserts for the 
rain she listened. 

“Amongst that escort there was one whom for 
days I had noted. It was Selim, my half-brother, 
son of a slave woman. My heart made itself at ease 
for that he was there. One night when it came his 
turn to stand guard at my tent he told me much. He 
said that those evil counsellors who surrounded 
Achmet feared me greatly, lest I should come into 
power and dismiss them. Achmet hated me with a 
fierce hatred, like unto that his mother bore to mine, 
because the sultan loved my mother and honored her 
above aU his wives. 

“ Achmet’ s viziers dared not counsel putting me to 
death, because of murmurings amongst the people. 
They took argument of each other and sent me to a dis- 
tant prison, whence if it became expedient I could 
surely be despatched to the Mart of the Hereafter. 

“All of this did Selim teU unto me — he, the son 
of a slave with the soul of a king, who now serves me 
in yonder house.” 


169 


GABRIELLE 


Gabrielle’s eyes followed Murad’s to the window of 
Dumb House, half expecting that Selim would be 
watching them through the casement. Murad 
divined her thought and smiled : 

“IN'ay, he looks not out upon the garden. The 
garden is mine— and yours.” 

Gabrielle listened ; stiller than the pulseless leaves 
above her head she listened. 

We fared on unceasing for many days and nights. 
Even Selim knew not whither we journeyed. Then 
we came to the uttermost confines of Persia, and 
found our appointed prison-house in the Jeb el 
Hamrin Mountains. It was a castle of yellow stone, 
hanging to the side of a cliff, above the River Tigris, 
near the ruins of Nineveh. For the first month 
Hassan and I occupied one room. 

Selim brought us the ill tiding that our fate had 
been decided during a debauch of the sultan. His 
most depraved viziers filled him with false courage 
of the vine. We were to die. 

That same night the governor of the castle and 
a score of mutes entered our room where Hassan 
and I were at chess. ^Ajrise and follow,’ said the 
governor. We obeyed, knowing not the why of it 
all. 

Without other word they led us down the long 
corridor and opened an iron door near the end. ^ In 
here,’ said the governor, standing outside that we 
might pass through. It was a small cell, six paces 
across, with a window scarce bigger than my hand. 

There was a bench, a pallet, a Koran and a bowl. 
These I saw, then looked at them no more. For in 
the floor, the center of the cell, there was a brass 
170 


THE TABLET OF BRASS 


plate, a gravestone. ^ Hassan ! ^ I exclaimed, and 
looked at him. His name was engraved upon the 
plate. 

“ ‘ NOUREDDIN HASSAN MUZA BEN MUSTAPHA.’ 

^^So read the inscription, with the date of his 
birth and the date of his death : ^ Died the first 

day of the Moon of Rajeb, at the hour of evening 
prayer.’ 

^^The fourth moon of the year being then upon 
the wane, my brother had sixty -three days in which 
to live. Such was the cunning of the viziers who 
would torture me through my love for Hassan. 
Hassan turned to me, stretched out his arms, and 
we embraced. 

^^^Come,’ said the governor j his mutes would 
have forced me from the room, but I went without 
suffering them to put hands upon me. I turned at 
the door. Hassan — poor slight boy that he was — 
stood calmly on the brazen tablet contemplating his 
gravestone with a smile of peace. The iron door 
closed. 

^^Down the corridor the mutes led me, and we 
came to another door standing open. The iron work 
was new and extraordinarily strong. The governor 
pointed, and I entered. My cell differed little from 
Hassan’ s except the window seemed more securely 
barred, and the door was sheathed with iron. There 
was a stool and a cot, a table holding a candle and a 
Koran ; there was naught else save a shining plate 
of brass which was let into the stones.” 

Gabrielle clutched the end of her bench, but made 
no outcry or interruption. 

171 


GABRIELLE 


^This is my apartment?’ said I to the governor, 
glancing at the gravestone, and turning toward him 
with the best smile I could muster. The governor 
bowed 5 he did not answer otherwise. He stood and 
waited until I had examined the inscription on my 
tomb so that he might report me as a weakling, 
stricken with terror. But I gave him no pleasure in 
this behalf. I talked with him lightly, as though I 
had no curiosity to know what might be engraven 
upon the brass. 

When His Excellency had grown weary of stand- 
ing, he wished me a very good night. The door 
swung to ; the candle flickered. I was alone. Well 
did I know that spy-holes were provided whereby I 
might be watched, so I betrayed no uneasiness, but 
seated myself at the table and opened the Koran. 
After a time spent in reading and composing my 
mind to meet the decree of God, I took up the candle 
and examined my cell. Nothing mattered except 
that gravestone. It was like unto Hassan’s in all 
things, save the dates of birth and death. Thereon it 
was written that I had died on the first of the Moon 
of Safar. Hassan had been granted sixty-three days 
of life, whilst I was vouchsafed more than nine months. 

^ ^ I stood there over-long pondering the date of my 
death and the place of my sepulchre. There is much 
in eternity upon which a man may think. 

^^Wken daylight came, as I could tell by a faint- 
ness outside my window, I cut a nick upon the wall 
so I might not lose count of the days. There fol- 
lowed two moons and six days of vacancy. I slept 
when I liked, paced the floor as I chose, ate bread as 
I was given it. I committed to memory those por- 
172 


THE TABLET OF BRASS 


tions of the Koran whereon my memory had grown 
dim. This employed me. Once each day I made a 
mark upon the wall. Such was my life. 

‘ ‘ On the sixty-third day, at the hour of the call to 
evening prayer, I sat quite still, fearing I might 
hear somewhat of Hassan. Folly ! I could not even 
hear the tread of the mutes who came each day at 
the middle hour to bring my bread and refill my 
pitcher. I could hear no sound until the key grated 
in the lock. Yet I did listen. 

^^It had passed the call to evening prayer, as best 
I might count the time, when the key clicked and the 
bolts were drawn. There stood the governor with his 
mutes behind him. He beckoned me to follow him 
along those corridors on which the curse of silence 
lay, as on the mutes. At the door to Hassan’ s cell the 
governor stopped and motioned me to look. My 
father had raised this governor from the dust to high 
estate ; he dared not meet my eye ; he cringed like a 
slave in his robes of office. 

looked within. The tablet had been taken up, 
exposing a vault. Beside this lay Hassan, his brow 
beautiful and white, but his lips were purple, and a 
red welt ran across his throat. An executioner stood 
on either side, with Yazan, the sultan’s chamberlain. 
Yazan had strangled my brother with the bowstring, 
and tied his hands across his chest. I gave no sign 
of misery, and made no cry which would find its echo 
in Stamboul. 

Yazan, the chamberlain, lifted his hand, and said 
solemnly : ^ This is the first day of the Moon of Eajeb. 
The sultan has been obeyed. The sultan shall always 
be obeyed.’ ” 


173 


GABRIELLE 


Gabrielle shivered and dropped back upon the 
bench, yet took not her eyes from Murad. 

^ ^ I shook off the mutes who would have seized my 
arms, and walked straightway back to my own door, 
entered and closed it behind me. There was no light 
to read the inscription at my feet j I could have shut 
my eyes and traced it against the wall.^^ 

Murad closed his eyes a moment, then opened them 
and pointed directly at the foot of the pine. His 
finger singled out the spot where a patch of sunlight 
fell. His expression frightened Gabrielle, it was so 
tense with certainty. 

“ See ! There it is ! Mark how the sunshine glit- 
ters on the brass ! ” 

His finger moved slowly as if he traced the letter- 
ing upon the brass ; Amurath 

For ages and ages, as it seemed to her, Gabrielle 
had not spoken. ‘‘No! No!^’ she cried, sprang 
erect and grasped his arm. “ No ! You shall not 5 I 
can see it all too plainly. Folk say the tree is ac- 
curst — that an enemy of God lies buried there. I 
thought — I thought they meant my uncle 

Murad^s eyes turned to the girl. He let fall his 
hand and smiled most queerly. They stood, and were 
silent. 

“It is very odd,’^ Murad said in a voice strangely 
subdued ; “ it is very odd, these fancies that we 
have. Dreams are but dreams, and yet when first I 
came into the garden I felt most sure I had seen this 
spot before. ^Twas but a fancy, a dream of the sun- 
shine that comes to men of the desert — yet it haunted 
me.” 

They moved apart, Gabrielle with fiuttering bosom, 
174 


THE TABLET OF BRASS 

and the devouring blue of her eyes resting upon his 
face. 

“ I interrupted you,^’ she said ; ^4t was so real. I 

have always feared the pine because — because 

She shivered with controlless dread and glanced about 
her at the stillness in the dim recesses of the garden. 
There were a thousand shadowy places which her 
childish imagination had peopled with a thousand 
terrors. 

But there was the pavilion flaunting its stripes of 
red and white. It seemed to breathe and live, its sides 
heaving with the warm sweet breath of the garden. 
It did live, it was glad of the sunshine. Its tiny pen- 
nons laughed at follies of the dark. She sat again upon 
the bench and smiled : “I was so foolish, so foolish ! 

The shadow of the pine had already crossed the 
fountain and began creeping towards the house. 
Gabrielle sprang up. ^ ^ Oh dear, I did not dream it 
was so late. What if Jean has come, or Margot 
misses me.^^ She turned to run ; then came back. 

Gabrielle was brave ; she came of a fearless race. 
Looking him squarely in the face she asked, When? 
When? You did not tell me ! 

Murad took both her hands and held them as he 
answered: ^^On the first of the Moon of Safar. I 
have yet forty-three days to live.^’ 

“ And do you think that anything could happen to 
you here, so far away?” Gabrielle glanced about 
her garden, the abode of unbroken peace. 

The sultanas arms are long,” he replied to her as 
he had replied to Selim. ^^A decree of God knows 
naught of time nor space.” 

Do you fear ? ” she asked again. 

175 


GABRIELLE 


Murad shook his head. ^^Why should I fear? 
That which is decreed will surely come to pass ; we 
can by no means avoid it. That which is not decreed 
need never worry me.’’ 

“Forty-three days;” she repeated the words over 
and over to herself. 

“To-morrow when you come I shall tell you 
more,” he promised, and Gabrielle went her way 
repeating, “Forty-three days.” Murad did not 
move for many minutes after the whiteness of her 
skirt had vanished. 

He turned and glanced at the bench. The "scat- 
tered books lay as she left them on the rug ; the 
cushions yet bore the imprint of her arms. Murad 
smiled, the loneliness passed away. Gabrielle had 
not gone ; she could not go. For Gabrielle was the 
garden, and the garden was Gabrielle. 


176 


CHAPTER XVI 

WHY NEED I FEAR 


Summer poured her midday lassitude into the gar- 
den where Murad dreamed upon the bench, waiting 
for the hour which would bring him Gabrielle. 

The scarlet trumpet- flower upheld its poisoned cup. 
A Persian rose, yellow and sweet, nodded to him 
in friendly fashion. The magnolia unveiled her 
daughter — her youngest and last — a daughter whose 
heart was all untouched, and whose breast was marble- 
white. Bananas parted their leaves and thrust up 
their growing fruit. Pomegranates changed the buds 
of promise for swelling globes of fulfilment. The rab- 
bit nursed her young ; the thrush fed her fledglings. 
The mocker sang to his mate upon the nest. 

Murad meditated. ^^Go thou and replenish the 
earth” had been commanded of all living things. 
Deeper than the Wonder, he knew the Wonder^ s 
cause. 

Cat-tails nodded in the fountain j listless dragon- 
flies settled down upon the lotus. But there were no 
sparkling diamonds flung into the air and no laugh to 
greet them as they fell. The cannas opened and the 
willows swung apart, for they had nothing to conceal. 

“ Within that fountain through dismay and shamed fright 
She trembled as on water doth moonlight.” 

Murad repeated the words of Yazigi, his favorite 
poet when in the mood of lutes and songs. He 
12 177 


GABRIELLE 


glanced from the fountain to his window. It was 
very far. Too far. 

The perfumes came in jubilant billows of rose and 
jasmine. The black earth panted in the pride of 
motherhood — proud of all these birds that wooed, 
these beasts and fishes which owned her as their 
mother. 

Murad looked to the pavilion — a bit of trans- 
planted Islam standing like a conqueror upon a 
foreign soil. He thought of himself resting at ease in 
a land of strangerhood. There were many things that 
he might have thought, but he forgot them all, for 
Gabrielle came. 

Gabrielle came with brow whiter than the magnolia, 
with lips redder than the pomegranate, with cheeks 
pinker than the rose which she had twined into her 
hair. Gabrielle came, the spirit incarnate of the 
garden. 

“I am early,” she laughed; ^^Jean was away, 
Margot has gone to the convent. What a glorious 
day. One is glad to be alive.” She took her seat 
upon the coping of the fountain where the sunlight* 
glorified her. 

^^How tell me the rest of it. You were still in the 
prison, but I know you must have got out else you 
would not be here.” Gabrielle’ s mind reverted to the 
very syllable where he had left off. I was frightened 
yesterday and scarcely understood. The garden has 
its moods. To-day it is sunshine.” 

^^But I had best sit in the shade,” Gabrielle 
remarked presently, changing to the bench amongst 
the cushions. She settled back unto the position of 
yesterday, and it was as if she had never stirred. 

178 


WHY NEED I FEAR 


One night,” Murad began, his tone mingling with 
the under voices of the garden, ^^one night, the 
seventy-second night, my prison doors were burst. 

^ Who is there ? ^ I called, for the hour was unusual. 
^The meanest of your slaves,^ a man answered who 
came rushing in and knelt at my feet. Even in the 
dark I knew ’twas Selim. 

^^^How came you here?^ I demanded. ‘Your 
slaves have taken your castle,^ he replied. 

file of men thronged in bearing their fiam- 
beaux. The brilliance dazzled me, my eyes being long 
accustomed to the dark. I recognized several of my 
old servants and spoke to them by name. 

“ ^WTio commands?^ I asked, and for answer they 
prostrated themselves before me. ^ In what force are 
you ? ^ ^ Two score and seven. ^ ^ The garrison ? The 

governor 1 ^ Selim bounded up, his eyes hashing : 

^ As they did unto Hassan so did we unto them. Not 
one lives.’ ^ ’Tis better,’ said an old warrior, Hhat 
none should bear tales.’ I looked at the man and his 
missing eye brought him back to memory. ^E1 
Tuerto,’ I called him by his name, which means, ^ the 
one-eyed.’ Whereat he was pleased, for he had lost 
his eye in gallant fight. The man knelt and held out 
a scimitar. It was my own. The hilt fitted gratefully 
to my hand. I arose, surrounded by that troop of 
faithful friends. 

^ Come,’ urged Selim j ^ let us be gone. You have 
horses and camels. Your ship awaits in the Gulf 
of Aiden.’ 

shook my head. Wrath mounted to my cheek ; 
strength tingled in my arm, and the lust of battle 
raged in my heart. ^ I shall not fly ! ’ 

179 


GABRIELLE 


beseech you, master,’ spoke up the blunt 
Tuerto j ^ we beseech you save yourself, and us. The 
hour is not ripe. The tyrant has not yet sickened all 
the people. Keep yourself from peril, and when de- 
liverance comes you need only march in triumph to 
your capital. But if you perish there is none other 
round whom the nation may rally.’ There was 
wisdom in this speech, and I considered it. 

“ It profits nothing to repeat their arguments, but I 
agreed to bide the time. 

^‘My friends had acted with prudence, providing 
swift horses and camels. Westward we swept by 
night through the province of Zor, and crossing the 
Euphrates were speedily lost in the Syrian desert 
which lieth between that country and Damascus.” 

Gabrielle listened with sparkling eyes and glowing 
cheeks. The countries he mentioned were but names 
to her j she knew nothing of them, nor did she care. 
She only knew that Murad had escaped the dangers 
which beset him, and her heart beat lighter to follow 
him. 

Murad’s enthusiasm kindled with the girl’s as he 
described their garments fluttering on the winds of 
many lands. 

A week we coursed southwestward, flying like the 
dust before the storm. We passed the desert, crossed 
the mountains, and came at morn upon the Gulf of 
Akabah. A vessel lay at anchor, swaying on the 
waves as though it were a camel. Her captain had 
descried us from afar 5 he and his boats came 
immediately ashore. 

“ ^ All, everything ; ’ Selim’s comprehensive gesture 
swept our little caravan and included everything, 
180 


WHY NEED I FEAR 


men and horses, camels and baggage. More quickly 
than I deemed it possible we were all aboard the 
vessel. 

“We threaded the Straits of Tiran, rounded the 
point of Ras Mahomet, and ran on the Egyptian coast 
beneath the peaks of Jeb Munfieh. Stepping from 
the deck into the saddle we sped across Egypt, avoid- 
ing the caravan routes, and cleaving the Libyan 
desert straight as the arrow flies. 

“Ah ! what a land is that of Africa ! The moist 
plowlands — the groves of eucalyptus — titanic ramparts 
of the rocks — the red desert rolling away from little 
brown hills. Ah ! the mystery of space — the level, level 
space, which, like eternity, has no beginning and no 
end. AJi ! what a land of flying white dust, of camels, 
and of savage men, who cry continually, ^ Oosh ! 
Oosh ! ’ to their beasts. How the camels swayed and 
rocked, and their velvet feet crunched upon the sand. 
The sunlight glittered on our steel, the wind blew in 
our faces — flerce bands of desert-robbers drew aside to 
let us pass. Through the night we rushed past the 
shadow of a solitary palm where a brown man stood, 
naked, lone and silent, in a naked, lone and silent 
land. Ah ! what a land is that of Africa ! ^ ^ 

Gabrielle followed him with a heart that had forgot 
to beat. 

“Then we rested in the tiny port of Beshir, in the 
Gulf of Sidra, which borders the Mediterranean.’^ 

This meant safety to Murad, and Gabrielle smiled. 

“There I parted with my troop, all save Selim j 
and I shamed me not for my tears. We put to sea, 
he and I, crossing with many misgivings to Marseilles. 

“On those clear, blue days, whilst the heavens and 
181 


GABRIELLE 


the seas were at peace, I could not but remember the 
fate of gallant Prince Jem, two centuries ago. He, 
like myself, fled the wrath of his brother and sought 
refuge with the Christian knights of Rhodes. They 
made him their prisoner, he who should have been 
their guest — those Christian knights. They wrung 
money from the sultan for his keep — those Christian 
knights. They hurried him from castle to castle in 
France — those Christian knights — wrangling like dogs 
over the gold that followed. During all those weary 
years he had but one solace, the love of Lady Hellene, 
the Christian lady. 

Finally, he fell into the hands of Pope Alexander 
Borgia, who poisoned him at his own table, and sold 
his body to the sultan. 

^Twas Prince Jem that wrote : 

“ ‘ Come, oh Jem, thy Jemshid cup drain, Tia the land of 
Frankestan ; 

Aye ’tis fate ; and what is written on his brow must hap 
to man.’ 

So did I consider the evil case of Prince Jem, won- 
dering betimes what was written upon my own brow.^^ 

‘ ^ Then what happened ? ’ ^ Gabrielle^ s eager interest 
would not suffer him to rest until he had told her all. 

The king of France received me with all comfort 
and honor. I had powerful friends near the throne. 
Yet a horse may travel from Stamboul to Paris. 

My friends besought me to hide beyond all search 
until the flrst of the Moon of Safar had passed. 
Much noise had gone abroad concerning this day of 
my death — for Mussulmans believe that whatever is 
ordered by the sultan will surely come to pass. 

182 


WHY NEED I FEAR 


^ ^ One night in Paris, whilst I halted between two 
minds, there came a knock upon my door, and an 
officer of the king appeared. ^ Your brother,^ he said, 

^ demands you of our government. A powerful 
embassy is on its way hither to urge the friendship 
of kings, and the comity of nations.^ am ready, ^ 
said I, rising, for I desired to bring no evil war upon 
my hosts. ^Nay,^ the officer assured me j ^ our king 
will not deliver you to death. Neither is it wise for 
him to refuse his ally, the sultan. Go this night j a 
ship has been provided which will take you to 
Louisiana.^ ^And where,’ asked I, ^is Louisiana?’ 

‘ ’Tis an island in the far seas,’ said he. ^ Then I shall 
go,’ I answered, ^ first giving thanks unto the king.’ 
^Nay,’ he said ; Hhere is no time j there be spies of 
your nation in Paris, such as are called Assassins.’ 

That night I left Paris privily with Selim. But 
fate sent me good friends along the way, and Allah 
guided my steps into this garden.” 

Gabrielle plucked at the feathers of her fan, 
smoothed them out, and watched the iridescent 
colors shimmer in the sun. Presently she lifted her 
insatiate eyes so full of questions that one slipped 
from her tongue : And will they find you here ? ” 

“ If it be written that I die in accordance with the 
command of the sultan, it availeth me nothing that I 
fiy from Stamboul to Louisiana, beyond the edges of 
the earth. Heard you never the story of Agib, and 
how God’s will shall surely come to pass? It runneth 
in this wise : 

There was once a king in the East called Agib, 
son of Khesib, and he ruled a kingdom near the sea. 
Being seized with a monarch’s whim for adventure he 
183 


GABRIELLE 


set out upon a cruise in search of strange cities. Far- 
ing on at hazard they passed many pleasant seas and 
set foot upon many beauteous islands. But a storm 
arose and drove them out of their course, as men 
would caU it, accidentally. 

After days of violent wind and raging water the 
captain lost his reckoning and climbed to the top of 
the mast to look out. He came down and prostrated 
himself before the king, cast his turban on the deck, 
buffetted his face, and said, ^ Oh king ! we are dead 
men. To-morrow by the end of day we shall come to 
a mountain of loadstone, which will draw the nails 
out of the ship and the ship will go to pieces.^ It 
happened as the captain said. The ship went to 
pieces on that fatal mountain, and the sailors were all 
drowned. The king was saved in order that destiny 
concerning him might be fulfilled. He clung to a 
plank and was tossed ashore by a monstrous wave, 
which left him lying at the foot of a tree. There he 
saw in a dream one who spoke unto him saying, ^ Rise, 
son of Khesib, dig where thou liest and thou shalt 
find a bow and arrows. Shoot an arrow at the horse- 
man on top of yonder dome.^ Agib awoke, and behold 
there was a dome of brass supported by ten columns. 
On the top thereof stood a horse and rider of solid 
brass. Agib, hearkening unto his dream, dug and 
found the arrows, and shot the horseman off the dome. 
The horseman fell with a great splash into the sea. A 
storm arose, the sea swelled until it was like to cover 
the island. Out of it came a man in a boat of brass 
and beckoned Agib. 

“Agib entered therein and for ten days rowed on 
untU they came in sight of an island. Agib was so 
184 


WHY NEED I FEAR 


overjoyed that he uttered the name of God — a thing 
forbidden, for the man of brass was a creature of 
enchantment. WTien the name of the Most High was 
uttered the man vanished, the boat sank, and left 
Agib struggling in the water. A tremendous wave 
cast him upon yet another island, so small that none 
might live upon it. There he climbed into the 
branches of a tree, and was bemoaning the evil plight 
into which he had fallen, when he saw approaching a 
ship, which dropped her anchor. Black slaves came 
ashore bringing a great quantity of meats and fruits 
and dates and carpets, and panniers of dried fish, 
which they transported to the middle of the island. 
There they dug with spades, uncovering a trap door 
and disappearing into the bowels of the earth. 

When all of this had been done there came ashore 
a very aged man leading a youth by the hand. The 
twain went together underneath the ground. After 
which the old man came forth alone and his slaves 
covered the trap door with earth. Then the ship 
carried them all away. Agib, devoured by curiosity 
concerning that which he had witnessed, climbed 
down out of the tree, dug up the trap door and dis- 
covered a winding stair of stone. Speedily he came 
to a luxurious apartment, hung with all manner of 
rich stuffs, and bright with divers colored lamps. 
Therein sat the youth. ^ Oh, my brother ! ’ spoke 
Agib, ^ be pacified of thy fears. I am a believer like 
thyself, cast here by destiny. I pray thee vouch me 
of thy case.^ 

^With all my heart, ^ replied the youth. ^Know 
thou that when I was born my father assembled the 
astrologers and had them draw my horoscope. 

185 


GABRIELLE 


Destiny hath decreed/^ said they, ^^life unto thy son 
until the age of fifteen. After which, if no evil hap 
betide him, his years shall be many. But a peril 
threatens from the Sea of Peril, where standeth the 
dread horseman of brass. This horseman shall fall, 
and thy son shall fall half a hundred days after, and 
by the same hand — the hand of Agib, son of Khesib.’^ 
Two weeks ago tidings came to my father that the 
horse of brass had fallen, overthrown by Agib, son of 
Khesib, whereat he was as one distraught. At once 
he built this cavern and brought me hither, where as 
you see, I am quite safe from Agib ben Khesib.^ 
^^Agib marvelled at the youth’s story, and at the 
queer hazard which had fiung them together in one 
place. ^ The astrologers lied,’ said he to himself j ‘ by 
Allah, I will not harm the youth.’ And there they 
bided together, these two, eating and sleeping and 
drinking together like brothers, until the fiftieth day 
came, when the youth arose, performed his ablutions, 
and made the morning prayers. ^ Praised be God, who 
hath preserved me to my father, for he cometh this 
day to fetch me. Oh, my brother ! cut me a melon.’ 
Agib made haste to get the melon and asked for that 
wherewith he might cut it. The youth pointed to a 
knife which rested on a shelf above his head. Agib 
climbed to the shelf and seized the knife ,* but coming 
down again he caught his foot in the couch and fell. 
By dire mischance in falling he drove the knife into 
the youth’s heart, and he died forthright — thus ful- 
filling that which had been written when the stars 
were made.” 

During the whole of this story Gabrielle did not 
once take her eyes from Murad’s face — a face as calm 
186 


WHY NEED I FEAR 


and grave as if the tale of Agib concerned him not. 
WTien he had done Gabrielle settled back upon the 
bench, heaving a sigh of wonderment. 

^^So you will understand, Murad spoke again in 
a tone of quiet certainty, ^Hhat like the stars we 
move according to the impulse given by the Hand 
which hurls us into space. The stars fear not, neither 
do they strive to disobey. WTiy should we fear or 
disobey?^’ 

Gabrielle had no answer for him, she deeming 
herself very simple and Murad very wise. 

Murad took his seat upon the coping of the foun- 
tain a little way apart from her. Gabrielle watched 
him through her lashes. 

^^No! No!’^ she laughed — ^the laugh that tinkles 
as though a tear had fallen on it — ^^No, I will not 
have it that way. Sister Therese tells prettier stories 
than you. In her stories the fairy prince always 
comes to his own, and they live happily ever after. 

Murad glanced up gravely, his mood beyond the 
influence of laughter or of fears. 

have offended against mine own judgment. 
Azizi was very wise. He saith : 

“ ‘As long as thoii can’st communicate not thy secret to thy 
friend, 

That friend hath another : Beware then of thy friend’s friend.’ ” 

Gabrielle sprang up, ran to the fountain and sat 
beside him. She took the hand that lay on the fold 
of his robe and rebuked him, sweetly as a woman 
might: ^^No, you are not sorry that you told me j 
you shall not be sorry. Beside, I have no friend, 
none but you.^^ 


187 


GABRIELLE 


Then she rose with the merriest laugh — a laugh of 
make-believe. You shall be the Fairy Prince, you 
shall come into your own, and I shall visit you as the 
Queen of Sheba visited Solomon. That will be 
glorious^ Oh, dear ! There’s Margot ” 

Gabrielle turned like a fawn to dash away. A 
mischievous branch reached down from the magnolia 
tree, plucked the rose deftly from her hair and cast it 
at Murad’s feet. Together they stooped to pick it up, 
but Murad was the quicker. 

^^Give it me,” she said. 

^^Nay,” he answered her; ^^in my country what- 
soever falleth from a rich man’s tree upon the 
ground, whether it be olive or date, or other blessing, 
that is called a ^ windfall ’ and is gathered by the poor. 
I shall keep the rose.” 

^^Why did you not say you wanted it?” She 
turned and sped down the path, while Murad sat in 
the lonely garden and meditated upon his rose. 

For sake of the rose he had a smile for every flower 
in the garden, for every bird that fluttered and every 
bee that buzzed, for every dash of light and blot of 
shadow in his path. Bearing the smile upon his lips 
Murad passed slowly along the walks and disappeared 
within the house. 


188 


CHAPTER XVII 

THE DREAD OF THE PINE 


For nearly four and twenty hours Gabrielle had 
wondered over Murad^s strange adventures. Often- 
times whilst with Margot or her father, or standing 
alone at the window, she^d gasp to remember some- 
thing else. She thought of the tablet foretelling 
Murad’s death, and hoped that he would hide in the 
woods until the time was passed. But there was that 
dreadful story of Agib. Then Gabrielle forgot all of 
these and smiled to think how Murad had snatched 
up the rose which fell from her hair. 

Margot had gone to the convent ; Grosjean hesi- 
tated on the doorstep. Never fear, Jean, I shall 
come to no harm. I shall close the door, and the bar 
is strong. I do not mind in the least ; I love to be 
alone.” She pushed him from the step, closed the 
door, then started running back through the hall. 

^^I told Jean a lie,” she accused herself. ^^No, 
’twas not a lie. I did not tell him I would he alone 5 
I only said I did not mind being alone. Anyway, I 
cannot mend it now.” She ran across Margot’s 
poultry yard and pressed through the vines into the 
wider garden. Murad waited for her. 

She met him with a smile as grave as his own, a 
smile of comprehension and kinship. They had a 
189 


GABRIELLE 

secret in common, something that they alone knew — 
something that itched the end of Gabrielle’s tongue, 
and made her feel tremendously important. She 
nodded to him, a sunny little nod of understanding, 
which plainly said, You and I know all about it, do 
we not? 

Murad, princely and courteous, inclined his head 
in assent. 

Gabrielle had no thought for trifling matters. She 
scarcely glanced at her little brown friend, the 
thrush. The jay irritated her, he was so fussy and 
frivolous. 

^^Come with me,’^ she said to Murad. The two 
marched on together like military leaders going to a 
council of war. 

She hurried to their accustomed place at the bench. 
Such things as velvet rugs and parti-colored cushions, 
even the Fan with the Thousand Eyes, were not for 
Gubrielle to-day. Even the pavilion, glittering in the 
sunshine, did not attract a glance. 

She pushed the hassocks and the cushions to one 
side, and sat down. She leaned forward, resting her 
elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands. Being 
thus in the attitude for thinking, Gabrielle thought 
profoundly. Presently she lifted two very serious 
eyes and stated : 

You are not an infidel.’^ 

he answered promptly. Then his eyes 
twinkled : “ Why do you say that? ” 

^‘We were talking, Margot and I, this morning. 
She’s dreadfully afraid of infidels. She says if one 
happens to be standing beside an infidel one might 
get struck by lightning — except for a piece of the 
190 


THE DREAD OF THE PINE 


true cross, or something like that. Mother Louise 
told me all about them once. She hates infidels, 
too.’^ 

What do you mean by an infidel 
do not know exactly, but it’s something very 
bad. They’re awful. They cannot go to heaven at 
all.” 

^^Why?” 

Mother Louise says so ; I did not ask her why.” 

What would you say if Mother Louise should call 
me an infidel ? ’ ’ 

Oh, no ; everybody is afraid of infidels, and hates 
them 5 I’m not afraid of you a tiny bit, and, of 
course — I do not hate you,^^ 

Suppose I were to tell you that many people look 
upon me as the head of the Mahometan religion ’ ” 

^^The what?” 

‘^The Mahometan religion.” 

'^mat isthat?” 

^ ^ The religion of the Prophet believed by millions 
in the East.” 

^ ^ Are they not Christians ? ” 

^'No.” 

^ ^ Are they infidels ? ’ ’ 

^^If one be an infidel who does not believe as you 
believe.” 

^ ^ But people must not believe in anything except 
God and the saints, and the Holy Yirgin, and the — 
oh, well, there are a great many things to believe in j 
you must believe in all of them and not believe 
anything else. It is very simple.” 

Murad smiled — inwardly. ^ ^ My people do believe 
in God, the only God — the same God.” 

191 


GABRIELLE 


^^You must believe in Jesus Christ and the Holy 
Virgin ” 

“We believe in Christ as a prophet of our 
religion, and we reverence Mary as one of the four 
women whom God hath ordained with all perfection-r- 
Asia the wife of Pharaoh, Mary the daughter of 
Imran, Khadijah the wife, and Fatima the daughter 
of the Prophet.’^ 

GabrieUe seemed greatly bewildered. “Mother 
Louise never told me about them. I have read the 
Lives of the Saints, but of course I could not remem- 
ber all of them. But you are not an infidel, are 
you?’’ 

“1^0,” he answered her again, and felt justified. 

“I knew it,” she asserted positively; “though I 
saw a picture of some infidels, and they were dressed 
like you.” 

“But the wise men who found your Saviour were 
also in this garb, as you told me.” Murad smiled, 
and GabrieUe knew full well the matter must be right. 

After a period of sUence she looked up and 
remarked, “I’m glad I am not a man.” 

“Why?” 

“A man must consider so many things, and if I 
were in your place, I should not know what to do. 
Do you think he can get you — ^way over here ? ” 

Murad bowed with a most apologetic expression ; 
it was entirely his fault that he did not understand. 

“I mean the king,” she explained. “Ho, what 
did you call him ?” 

“The sultan? ” 

“ Oh yes, the sultan — I’ve been trying all day to 
think of that word. A sultan is higher than a king, 
192 


THE DREAD OF THE PINE 


isnT he? Do you think there is any danger? It 
seems dreadful to have one’s name already carved on 
a tombstone — and the date.” 

Murad shrugged his shoulders, a gesture which 
always made Gabrielle smile, it was so comically 
unlike a genuine French shrug. But now her mood 
was far too serious. 

If it be so decreed,” he answered. 

That’s what you said on yesterday. What do 
you mean by that? ” 

“God governs the world and orders all things. If 
my death be ordained on the first of Safar’s moon, 
no precaution can possibly prevent it. By running 
away I should run directly into the danger, as did 
the merchant who hid his son on the island through 
fear of Agib ben Khesib. Therefore I shall bide here 
in peace.” 

Gabrielle gained reassurance from his untroubled 
face; yet her smile was exceeding wistful. “And 
that is why you are not afraid ? ” 

“ Yes, the coward dies a thousand deaths of his 
own imagining ; the brave man dies the one which 
fate decrees.” 

“ It is forty-one days until — until ’ ’ 

“Forty-one,” he assented quietly. 

Murad went to an oleander bush and plucked a 
spray, then drifted slowly back, picking the petals 
into bits and scattering them like scarlet tears behind 
him. WTien he came very near to her again he 
began to speak : 

“You ask if the sultan’s vengeance is like to reach 
me in this far land. I do not know. We of the 
faith differ much. ’Tis noised amongst the people 
13 193 


GABRIELLE 


that I shall die at the time ordained by the sultan, 
whose will is the supreme law of Islam. Should I 
live beyond that time the people will believe me set 
apart from mortal men, and beyond the sultanas 
power. It will gain me many followers. I shall 
overthrow him.’’ 

Overthrow him? ” Gabrielle repeated vaguely. 

^^Yes, there will be battles and fighting; many 
will die. Ah ! the misery of it — one’s own nation, 
deluded children of the Prophet.” 

The light of combat flashed up and died away from 
Murad’s face. He spoke with settled melancholy, 
but as a man who has resolutely determined his 
course. 

Battles and fighting ? ” Gabrielle asked. Were 
you ever in a battle? You never told me of that.” 

^^I have seen service,” he admitted ; “but there is 
no glory in winning victories over one’s own kin.” 

“That’s just what I could not understand,” she 
began hurriedly, as though she had waited a chance 
to ask the question. “ The king, or the sultan, in the 
picture — ^he was your father ? ” 

“Yes.” 

“He died and your brother became sultan ? ” 

“Yes.” 

“ And it was your own brother who had your name 
engraved on that tomb?” Gabrielle could not cast 
the horror from her mind, “I suppose sultans can 
not love their brothers? ” 

Gabrielle was in deadly earnest, yet felt as if she 
were prying into family secrets. Murad surprised 
her by breaking into a broad smile, then a laugh. 

“l^'o, sultans do not love their brothers, and have 
194 


THE DREAD OF THE PINE 


no cause to love them. Indeed the first act of most 
sultans on coming to the throne is to put all of his 
brothers to death. 

^^Put his brothers to death — why?” Gabrielle’s 
eyes opened wide. 

“For good reason. Princes of our land are rest- 
less and ambitious — nothing short of a throne 
contents them. They keep up perpetual civil war. 
One of our greatest sultans — peace to his ashes — 
slew all his brothers at once. ^By Allah/ said he, 
^an execution is less grievous than an insurrection. 
I’ll take a span from their highest parts.’ So he 
chopped off their heads and had peace in the land.” 

Gabrielle shuddered : “ I do not want you to go 

back there. I don’t, I don’t. When you get to be 
sultan you will not kill your brothers, will you? ” 

“No,” he promised, and made some movement of 
the hands which seemed very solemn. “I have no 
brothers — Achmet hath forestalled me. All save one, 
for Selim lives — a slave with the soul of a king.” 

“He is in there?” she asked, looking towards the 
Vfindow. 

“Yes.” 

“ Why does he never come into the garden ? ” 

Murad glanced ; at her queerly, and hesitated : 
“Because — ^because I come into the garden every day 
and I feel freer to think if no one be watching me. 
Therefore I admonished Selim never to cast his eyes 
upon the garden.” 

“That’s just it,” Gabrielle assented eagerly; “I 
did not know anybody else felt that way. I was 
always so free in here where no one could see me — 
and ” 


195 


GABRIELLE 


She glanced at the pool, the cannas, the window, 
and flushed violently, for Murad was gazing directly 
at her. He did not really mean to fret her, but the 
flow of color into Gabrielle’s cheek was so very 
beautiful that in watching it Murad forgot. 

I am sorry,’’ he said presently j I am sorry that 
I have spoiled your garden for you.” 

I did not mean that, truly I did not ; it is ever so 
much nicer since you came. You tell me so many 
things and give me so much to think of. I think of 
nothing all day long except what you tell me in this 
hour. I must have thought about something before 
you came, yet I cannot remember a single thing. If 
you went away I should never come here again. ’ ’ 
‘^Possibly I shall not go away.” Murad did not 
intend it, but Gabrielle detected the morbid tone in 
his voice, and his involuntary glance towards the 
pine. She sprang to her feet 5 her eyes sought the 
spot at the foot of the pine. 

^^Ho, no, not that ! ” 

“l!lot what?” 

^^I’m so foolish,” she said, and sat down again. 
Do you remember on yesterday when you spoke of 
that awful tablet with your name written upon it? 
You pointed right at that place over there by the foot 
of the tree and I imagined I could see the grave. 
Ugh ! I dreamed of it all night ; right there.” 

Murad looked at the girl with amazement. 
Gabrielle,” he said, “that is most strange. Ever 
since I saw that tree I have had the same idea. The 
first day I came into the garden I felt sure of having 
been here before. I imagined the ground was 
trampled by many feet. The tablet was there, wet 
196 


THE DREAD OF THE PINE 


with dew and besmeared with mud. I saw it clearly, 
and have not been able to get it out of my thoughts. 

Gabrielle did not look up. have always 

imagined something terrible about that tree/^ she 
said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world 
for her to feel whatever Murad felt. 

Murad walked away. Gabrielle kept pulling at the 
fringe of a cushion. When he turned and came back, 
Murad laughed carelessly : 

Never mind, we’ll not talk of that. To-morrow 
we shall have some books and pictures. And I shall 
bring you a plaything.” 


197 


CHAPTER XVIII 

THE COUCH OF THE SULTANA 


Gabrielle had lain awake for hours listening for 
her father to return. In the earlier part of the night 
there had come a rap on the door. Grosjean con- 
ferred in whispers with the man outside, and de- 
parted. Gahrielle saw him striding along the levee 
and noted the lights still burning in Government 
House. Her curiosity was aroused, but Hwas not this 
of itself which made her so wakeful. 

Try as she might she could not sleep, and however 
persistently she closed her eyes she could not help 
seeing that gorgeous couch which Murad had placed 
in his pavilion. Since the first moment she saw it 
Gabrielle had the most intense desire to hide behind 
its curtains and burrow her head in those wonderful 
pillows — she must know how a sleeping sultana felt 
in such a bed. Silly? Yes, she knew very well it was 
silly. Childish ? Senseless ? Gabrielle comprehended 
that. Dangerous? In some dim way she realized 
there might be a danger. But the pioneer blood of 
Grosjean coursed through Gabrielle’ s veins, and to 
him the spice of danger had always made an 
expedition more attractive. 

“He said he meant to make me a plaything j I 
wonder what it can be?” There were so many 
things for Gabrielle to think about it was small 
wonder she could not sleep. 

198 


THE COUCH OF THE SULTANA 


She tumbled and tossed and reasoned with herself. 
The summer winds blew through her windows and 
rustled the curtains of her bed. They irritated her, 
making her think of those silken curtains about the 
couch which swayed back and forth like a fil m of 
mist, without a sound. 

Presently she sprang out of bed and ran to the 
window, her white robe shimmering in the starlight. 
The glory of a cloudless night clothed the river in 
majesty, and set the seal of every star upon its bosom. 

Gabrielle glanced up and down the river. No one 
was abroad. No lights shone anywhere, save from 
the governor’s room, whither her father must have 
gone. 

“I cannot sleep j it’s too hot,” she said. Then, 

It would not take a minute, and I’d be satisfied.” 
Gabrielle knew if she stopped and considered it, she 
might be cautious — she did not want to be cautious. 
She did not stop. 

She ran to a closet, snatched up a dark cloak and 
wrapped it round her. Her bare feet pattered on the 
steps and she laughed at the distinctness with which 
she heard them. But old Margot was asleep, and 
Gabrielle could afford to laugh at the pitter-patter of 
her own feet. It is better to laugh than to think. 
One can think afterwards. She darted across their 
garden, passed the wall, and halted behind the vines 
on the farther side. 

The garden lay before her, still and clear and 
silent. She glanced at Murad’s window. The light 
burned j he was there, and he was not looking. She 
stole out, avoided the open spaces and slunk from 
shadow to shadow, looking ever back at Murad’s 
199 


GABRIELLE 


window. She reached the cloistered darkness of the 
pines. 

Safe beside the fountain Gabrielle stooped and 
lifted her cloak to see what the matter was. She had 
felt a twinge of pain as she passed a rose-bush j now 
she remembered it. An ugly scratch across the 
whiteness of her ankle, and little red drops stood out 
like a scarlet rosary. ^^Ugh!^^ she said; one’s 
skin grows tender from the wearing of shoes and 
stockings.” 

She sat on the coping of the fountain, taking care 
to get well behind the cannas and to make no noise. 
She sat on the coping, dabbling her foot in the water 
and sighing for the days when briars did not scratch 
and pebbles did not bruise. 

It was very dark inside the pavilion, but Gabrielle 
knew exactly where the couch stood. She was quite 
sure of getting about without knocking things 
down — she had taken careful observations in the 
daylight. 

^^TJgh! that feels good,” she said, stepping upon 
the thick rugs — pebbles and weeds are not near as 
soft to tread upon.” 

In the dark she made her way to the couch and sat 
down upon it just where the curtains came together. 
The curtains were softer than a breath, touching her 
cheeks more lightly than an angel’s kiss. 

GabrieUe suffered her cloak to fall, turned aside the 
coverlet and cuddled underneath. Presently she sat 
up, looked about her and wished she dared light 
those mysterious lamps — ^but Murad might see their 
glow. Had she only known how to start the 
smouldering braziers that smelled so sweet she might 
200 


THE COUCH OF THE SULTANA 


have ventured. Other perfumes rose in the pavilion ; 
Gabrielle shut her eyes and opened her soul. 

“Dear me!^^ she thought, “I could go to sleep in 
a minute. It would be a merry prank. How Jean 
would open his eyes if he should come here and find 
me, sleeping like a queen in the bed of a queen. 

Presently she grew restless j she rose and moved 
about on the hushing rugs, seeking to discover an 
odor which suggested the queer idea of some one 
whispering in her ears. 

The stars shone outside. Gabrielle loved the stars ; 
she had her reasons for loving them. She stood at 
the entrance of the pavilion looking out at the 
garden, the fountain, the stars — and Murad^s win- 
dow. She stood there whiter and stiller than the boy 
upon the fountain, gazing into the night. 

“ Oh dear ! I must go j Jean will be coming soon.’^ 
She had already made one backward step to take up 
her cloak when a twig snapped and a bush rustled. 
She sprang to the opening again, but could see noth- 
ing. The dread of the pine rushed upon her, and all 
of MargoFs stories concerning it. 

“Why did I not think of that — I should not have 
come.^’ Within the pavilion she felt safe, hiding 
behind Murad’s assurance that there was no such 
thing as spirits walking in the night. “ It must have 
been a rabbit,” she thought; “or perhaps an owl 
fiapped amongst the trees.” 

Gabrielle ran to the opening and buttoned the cur- 
tain, leaving only a small space at the bottom through 
which to look and listen. 

There came a crunching sound, as of a tread upon 
the shells in the path. Something walked abroad, 
201 


GABRIELLE 


something far heavier than a rabbit — Paul-Marie was 
a giant, so Margot said. 

Gabrielle crouched behind the curtain, and shivered 
though the night was warm. She drew her thin white 
robe about her and felt its insufficiency. She remem- 
bered what Margot had often said about the chickens 
— that ’twas the white ones which the owls caught at 
night. Gabrielle dared not run to the couch and get 
her cloak. Something might happen. 

She heard steps, erratic steps that ceased and came 
on again, l^ow coming — now going — now she heard 
nothing. 

The steps began again and came nearer — nearer — 
nearer ; Gabrielle heard the muttering of a voice. She 
ceased to breathe. 

A shape swung into view, passed the olive bush, 
moved ’round the cannas and ^^Oh!” Gabrielle 
exclaimed. It was Murad. 

She almost cried aloud to him for the sense of safety 
that he brought. She lay upon the thick warm rugs 
and peered out, glad it was Murad instead of Paul- 
Marie. Then she watched him more intently, for he 
stopped beside the fountain, and Gabrielle felt sure 
that something was wrong. 

Murad swung himself into the open space and 
stopped ; Gabrielle saw him clearly, could even see 
the expression on his face. 

It was that expression which frightened her. iN'ever 
before had he been aught but composed and dignified, 
with such a surety of power about his lips. Though 
he stood stiller than the trunk of the pine, Gabrielle 
realized that he was wavering. 

His lips moved j he spoke, but in his own tongue. 

202 


THE COUCH OF THE SULTANA 


Gabrielle could not understand the words, but she 
knew, as a woman knows, that something was wrong. 
Perhaps it was the poise of his head, less certain and 
less proud ; perhaps it was the helpless outflinging of 
his arms, as a man who strives to cast off a shackle. 
Whatever it might be Gabrielle’ s impulse was to call 
out to him. But she durst not. His face was tense 
and drawn j his clenched hands warned her to let 
him be. 

He spoke again, such words as she had never heard 
from mortal lips — terrible and stern as though a 
tongue of steel had uttered them. He stepped forward 
and gazed long into the fountain. 

WTien Murad turned again it was to move slowly 
towards the bench where rested the cushions as 
Gabrielle had left them. They were undisturbed ; 
one might have imagined that she had but that 
instant risen from them. Murad folded his arms and 
looked down upon these silent witnesses of her pres- 
ence. He touched one with his fingers, being careful 
not to smooth out a crease that Gabrielle had made. 

Presently his hands fell to his side, and as a man 
who does what he cannot help, he sat down at the 
farther end, as he had always sat when talking to 
Gabrielle. His lips moved again, but the words were 
soft and low and musical. What a voice he had, and 
how tenderly the mystic syllables fell. Though she 
could not understand the words, Gabrielle became 
greatly interested. She saw him take up the Fan of 
the Thousand Eyes and brush it against his cheek, 
touching it to his lips as he laid it down. He sat and 
stared straight ahead of him, at the flap of the curtain 
as Gabrielle thought. She shrank away from her 
203 


GABRIELLE 


spy -hole and wished for her cloak ; she even feared she 
had made a noise. Murad sprang up, took a step or 
two towards her, then halted and shook his head. 

Gabrielle darted back to the couch, took up her 
cloak and wrapped herself securely as she might. 
Then hearing nothing more she came back step by 
step to the flap and peered out. Murad stood a few 
paces distant, with his head turned from her. He 
seemed to be listening towards the house. Gabrielle 
widened the crack with her fingers and followed 
Murad’s eye. 

Some one else was in the garden. It angered 
Gabrielle. Jean ! ” — she choked the word before it 
made a sound. 

Grosjean looked bigger than ever beneath the 
uncertain light of the stars. ^^He has come for me,” 
she thought. 

Grosjean came directly to Murad. Gabrielle saw 
something white in his hand. Selim told me you 
were here,” he said. came against his wish.” So 
did Grosjean absolve Sehm from the blame. 

Murad extended his hand in welcome. Gabrielle 
saw him turn his head and glance towards the bench, 
at the fan lying as she had left it. Come,” he said, 
taking Grosjean by the armj “let us return to the 
house. There we may confer at ease. ” 

To Gabrielle, who was watching, the action was so 
significant that Murad might as well have put his 
thought in words. “ The garden is ours,” Gabrielle 
murmured to herself. Her heart beat riotously. She 
wished her father would go away. 

Grosjean did not go away. He planted one foot on 
the coping of the fountain, and rested an elbow on his 
204 


THE COUCH OF THE SULTANA 


knee. Wait/^ he said j ^‘let me explain before we 
go into the house. The governor has advices that 
your friends have fitted out a ship at St. Malo and 
manned it with adventurers. This vessel will soon 
reach Santo Domingo, where a hundred buccaneers 
will join them.’^ 

Murad betrayed little surprise. fear they are 
too impatient,’^ he said ; ^4t is not yet the time.^^ It 
thrilled Gabrielle to think that she knew what Murad 
meant, and her father did not. 

^^Here is a letter,’^ said Grosjean, which was 
slipped beneath my door this night. It is addressed, 
^To the stranger within thy gates.’ I have not dis- 
covered the bearer. Does any one beside ourselves 
suspect that you are here ” 

Murad shook his head and reached for the letter. 

^^Tou have had communication with no one?” 
inquired Grosjean. 

^^None,” Murad assured him. 

It is quite a singular thing,” Grosjean refiected ; 
^^so far as I am aware only the governor and two 
gentlemen know of your presence. I have used aU 
precaution to prevent gossip.” 

Gabrielle chuckled to herself ; some day she would 
make merry with her father over this prank, and 
what she had learned by eavesdropping. 

^^Come,” suggested Murad again, but Grosjean still 
held back. 

I have become interested in you,” he said without 
heeding Murad’s hand upon his arm, ^^and should be 
glad to serve you. If this place be not safe, we might 
go together into the remote forests where no white 
man has ever dared to venture.” 

206 


GABRIELLE 


Gabrielle surmised from this that Murad had been 
discussing affairs with her father. She resented the 
thought. Grosjean reached out his arm and put it 
around Murad^s shoulders, so strong and so protecting 
that Gabrielle was glad, and tears came brimming to 
her eyes. She listened eagerly for Murad^s reply. 

^^No,” he said, have considered much in that 
wise. If this garden be not safe, then for me there is 
no safety above the ground. Beside, I love this 
garden. I shall remain here unto the end.’^ 

For a space the two stood silent beneath the stars. 

“What tent is that?’’ asked Grosjean. He moved 
a step as if he meant to enter. Gabrielle did not dare 
to stir. 

“ I use it sometimes,” answered Murad, taking him 
by the arm. “Come, let us go to the light, where I 
may read my letter. ’ ’ 

Gabrielle watched them move slowly towards the 
house in earnest converse. She listened so acutely 
that she heard their double tread through the hallway. 

Then another shadow moved amongst the shadows, 
and Gabrielle too was gone. 


206 


CHAPTER XIX 

THE PLAYTHING 


In the first dusk of morning, after the foredawn 
ablutions and prayers were done, Murad turned his 
eyes from Mecca and his thoughts to Gabrielle. By 
the light of his lamps — for day was yet too young to 
set its radiance in the skies — he gathered around him 
a jumble of queer- looking bottles, and the oddest of 
all odd crucibles. 

plaything,^’ he smiled to himself f “I prom- 
ised her a plaything j but is it just that I should pry 
into her soul? Ah, well! it cannot harm Gabrielle, 
for never in the world was there another soul and 
heart as innocent. Yet he shook his head doubt- 
fully and lighted the retort. 

The blue flames burned ; the crucible bubbled in 
wrath. He poured something from a bottle, holding 
his head to one side lest he inhale the fumes. Then 
he bent over and watched the vicious tongues of red 
and yellow and green. When the liquid had boiled 
down and quieted he added a few drops from another 
bottle, and from yet another. The colors played and 
sparkled as though the blood-red tragedy of sunset 
had fallen upon a peaceful azure sea. For hours 
Murad watched the turmoil in that tiny vessel, where 
every evil passion and every noble aim were being 
blent as they are in humankind. 

207 


GABRIELLE 


^^The colors mingle and fade,’^ lie said j ^‘now ^tis 
the ruby — passion and blood j now black, the hue of 
death — ^the wrath of battle and murder^ s violence. 
Kow His clouding with lead — the pall, the grave, the 
silence. 1^'ow all white and glittering — pride and 
ambition ! 

Then it turned to amethyst, with shifting blues 
and reds and purples ; now a million opals swam 
in a shining sea of emerald. Murad followed every 
change and every mood. 

^^It is almost ready. Murad began with exceed- 
ing care to open a tiny vial encased in wicker. He 
loosened the glass stopper and held it ready. 

^^Now!’^ He extinguished the fire, and shut his 
lips tight. 

^Ht grows quieter, as age comes on and passion 
cools. The fever and the fret are done. It is the 
moment.’^ Murad leaned close above the liquid. 
He suffered a single drop to fall from the vial, and 
keenly observed the effect. It became perfectly 
clear j there was not a bubble on its surface, not a 
mote in its depths. 

Murad took up an empty crystal globe, like unto 
that other. This he held between himself and the 
lamp to be sure it was clean, and without a flaw. 
He filled it from the crucible, sealed its neck with 
heated wax, and fixed it to a base of cedarwood. 
He covered it then with a piece of fine linen and laid 
it aside upon the table. This done, he relighted his 
retort and poured what remained of the liquid, drop 
by drop, into the fire. The flames shot up gleefully 
until all was gone. 

^‘Life returns to death again,’’ he muttered. 

208 


THE PLAYTHING 


Death and life together give redness to the rose, 
and blue to the tossing sea — the pink of woman^s 
cheeks, the blackness of man^s eyes — all, all in death, 
and from death all life is born.’’ 

When the last drop had fallen, the last flame had 
died away, Murad covered his retort and crucible. 

Steady day shone down upon the garden. His 
work was done. The globe lay finished. Murad 
glanced at the sun. 

“Two hours yet,” he said, and wondered how he 
should employ them. Murad selected amongst a 
number of beautiful books, setting aside those best 
fitted to amuse Gabrielle. 

Before the noontide hour came he made several 
journeys back and forth to the bench in the garden, 
spreading out the books and trinkets in such manner 
as to please her eye. 

He carried also an armful of weapons, scimitars and 
queer-looking knives. After this there was nothing 
for him to do but wait. 

He sat upon the bench and watched the shadow of 
the pine until it came midway the oleander bush. It 
was Gabrielle’ s hour, marked by Gabrielle’ s clock. 
Murad walked to the grapevine through which she 
always came. No sound reached him from the 
farther side of the wall. Murad grew impatient. 

He strode to the bench again, and back and forth 
until it had passed the hour of noon. He came again 
to the vine. 

Gabrielle thrust her face into the sunlight so sud- 
denly that she startled him. “I’ve been watching 
you,” she laughed j “I did not guess that you could 
walk so fast — ^you are always deliberate and calm.” 

14 209 


GABRIELLE 


Murad felt an odd sense of awkwardness. was 
waiting,” lie answered simply. 

Gabrielle laughed again: Mother Louise always 
said I was too impatient for any use — I could never 
keep still a minute. But I have been standing here 
for a long, long time looking at you. I stood ever so 
still and did not make a bit of noise. It’s great fun to 
watch some person who doesn’t know it. Where’s the 
plaything ? ” 

GabrieUe stepped out into the path. Murad looked 
guilty and answered not j so Gabrielle went on : “It 
is very curious. I look at you and it is almost as if 
you were thinking out loud, and I hear every word — 
I have come to understand you so well.” 

They were walking towards the bench and Gabrielle 
chatted without restraint : “You are so different from 
father. He talks to me as if I were a baby, and you 
— ^you tell me things.” 

Whenever Gabrielle turned her eyes straight upon 
him, Murad felt as if the pages of a book were being 
opened before him with every syllable made clear. 
It was a violation of trust for him to look. 

“Come,” he said; “I have the plaything.” He 
pointed to the bench. 

^ ^ Which ? ’ ’ she asked wonderingly. “There are so 
many.” 

“This,” he said ; and Murad laid the globe within 
her hand. 

“What is it?” She turned the globe over and 
over. 

“It is a magic glass, such as sorcerers make in the 
East.” 

“What is it good for ? It is very pretty.” 

210 


THE PLAYTHING 


^^Look at these pictures through it/^ Murad 
opened a book and showed her how to hold the glass 
so that the pictures would be magnified. 

“Oh ! Aren’t they big? My! He scared me — 
that man seemed staring back at me.” She put 
the glass aside to note again their real size. “It 
is very queer. You certainly do know a lot of 
things.” 

Murad found a keen joy in watching the play of 
intelligence across her features — an eager but wholly 
untrained mind in its effort to comprehend. 

“Let me have the glass,” he said j “I will show 
you something.” 

Gabrielle resigned it unwillingly. 

“ Do you remember Prometheus? ” he began. 

“Who?” 

“ Prometheus.” 

Gabrielle shook her head. “No, I saw no one at 
the convent except that man I told you of — I peeped 
at him through the lattice. But I did not know his 
name ” 

Murad preserved his gravity and explained : 
“ Prometheus was the Titan who brought down fire 
from heaven.” 

Gabrielle closed her book and settled herself for a 
story. 

“Prometheus stole fire from heaven, and the gods 
— ^pagan gods, of course, Prometheus was an infidel — 
the gods cursed him by sending him a woman named 
Pandora who made much trouble ” 

“ Is this a true story — a really true story ? ” 

“ It may not be true, but it is a very old legend. If 
Prometheus had possessed a glass like this he could 
211 


GABRIELLE 

have brought down fire from heaven without being a 
thief.’' 

Making a great mystery of it Murad gathered some 
rotten wood from a stump and placed it in a heap on 
the coping. Now watch it,” he said, and held the 
glass above it. Gabrielle saw the dry stuff smoke and 
smoulder, then blaze up. Murad took the glass 
away ; putting out her finger she convinced herself 
that the fire was really true, if the story was not. 

^^That must be necromancy, or magic,” she 
declared j ^ ^ anyway it ’ s wicked. ’ ’ 

Murad shook his head and pointed upward at 
the sun. 

No. The heat of the universe is there. It comes 
to us in the sunshine. Do you not feel iti ” Gabrielle 
knew that this was really true — ^the sun indeed was 
hot. 

^^This glass,” Murad explained, “collects the 
heat and draws it to one place — that makes the fire.” 
He showed her again, and finally she understood. 

“Let me try it by myself. No, give it me in my 
own hand.” She experimented with the new toy, 
upon the wood, the cannas, the leaves, and last upon 
her own bare arm until she was completely satisfied. 

“It is very simple,” she admitted. “Everything 
must be simple when you understand it.” 

“Every leaf of every tree is verily a book — if you 
study them. But they teach no lessons to a fool. 
We know what the sun is ; we know the earth, the 
flowers, the stars. All of them are simple. We 
understand everything except the problem of Thee 
and Me.” 

Gabrielle faced the unsolved problem of Thee and 
212 


THE PLAYTHING 


Me, and faced it seriously ; but Murad looked so very 
solemn that sbe laughed in his face. 

^^Some day you’ll learn about Thee and Me, then 
you’ll know everything. You may teach me, and I 
shall not worry. The world is too beautiful for 
me to bother about things like that.” There was no 
reasoning with Gabrielle in this mood, so Murad let 
her be. 

She seated herself upon the cushions and began 
examining the pictures through the glass. 

What singular ships,” she commented presently ; 
^Hhey are not like the ships that come to Louisiana.” 

“No, those are Turkish vessels j and some of them 
are what your people call pirates.” 

“Which is the pirate? This one with the black 
hull?” 

Breathlessly she bent over the picture — a long low 
huU, trim and slender as a pirogue, with spars keener 
than rapiers, and a gaunt strength that made it look 
like some hungry tiger of the seas. 

Gabrielle shivered with a delicious terror. 

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall never forget how 
that ship looks.” 

Murad’s lip curled into a smile of ugliness. “There 
are many unfortunates in my country who have cause 
to know that craft. It is no pirate ; it is the sultan’s 
own ship. It is his house of carousal, his refuge, his 
executioner — all in one. It has been the slaughter- 
pen for many a noble victim.” 

Gabrielle drew a quick breath and opened her lips 
— an invitation for Murad to tell her more. 

“Aboard that ship,” he continued, “many pris- 
oners have been sent. Sometimes the sultan goes and 
213 


GABRIELLE 


questions them himself. Not one has ever come 
ashore again. 

^^TJgh!^^ She shuddered at that hideous thing 
which held her fascinated. “There must be much 
trouble in the world. I should like to remain forever 
in this garden where it is peaceful and happy. 

Gabrielle sat there musing, holding the globe in 
both her hands, and looking far away over the top 
of the wall, across the roof of the great world. Murad 
walked slowly to a pomegranate tree where a passion- 
flower clambered. Her eyes followed him. He 
plucked the purple flower and brought it to her. 
“Examine this through your glass. 

Gabrielle raised the glass and searched the marvel 
of that flower^ s coloring, deep into the heart of the 
blossom. 

“It is wonderful,^’ she said ; “ I never dreamed it. 
I thought it was just a flower like any other. And 
are all these flowers in the garden as wonderful as 
thatr^ 

Murad nodded. “These we can understand — what 
makes them — what they are — and whither they go 
when they die.^^ 

“Let us not talk of dying, she said. “What are 
these? 

“Swords and knives and scimitars. 

“They look very wicked. 

“Yes, if badly used; sometimes they become 
necessary.’^ Murad saw that she still held the globe 
clasped in her palms. 

“Let me show you how my people use them,’^ he 
said. 

He bared his arm to the shoulder and flashed a 
214 


THE PLAYTHING 


curving blade from its scabbard. First be swung it 
in a glittering circle swifter than tbe eye could follow. 
Then it seemed to spring bigb into the air, turn over 
very slowly and return unto his hand. It passed 
around his body, under his arms, round his shoulders, 
above his head — the hilt coming always back to his 
hand. He toyed with the blade and caressed it in 
mid-air as though it were a gentle pet. Then he held 
it quite still and laughed at Gabrielle^s breathless 
excitement. 

Is it — is it — sharp she queried anxiously. 

For answer Murad took up a cushion, tossed it 
lightly into the air and — Gabrielle could not see 
exactly how it all happened, neither Murad nor 
the blade had seemed to move, but the cushion fell 
in two parts upon the ground, evenly and Cleanly 
divided. 

Murad returned his scimitar to its sheath, laughed 
and sat down. He breathed faster, the joy of action 
shone in his eyes. Gabrielle never before realized 
how beautiful a man might be — especially if the man 
be very strong and brave. 

All the while Gabrielle held the globe tight-clasped 
in her hands. Now she laid it aside. Murad took it 
up and found that it was warm. 

Gabrielle went to sit upon the coping, rolling up 
her sleeves and laving her arms in the water. Then 
she thought of something— another unsolved problem, 
more engrossing than that of ^^Thee and Me.^^ She 
paused, the water dripping from her fingers. Past 
the cat-tails and past the cannas she gazed straight at 
Murad^s window. A flush of doubt and shame flitted 
across her cheek j she bent lower and dared not glance 
215 


r 


GABRIELLE 

at the man, or ask the question that troubled her 
most of all. 

Murad^s mind reverted to the East. In those days 
of his dalliance there had been fountains and music ; 
there had been gardens of eternal summer, languorous 
with the breath of Blessed Isles. In those gardens 
there were many beauties, pale and dark, blue-eyed, 
black-eyed and brown — beauties who lived to please 
their master. 

Here again was summer and a garden, and a foun- 
tain, and the miracle-music of many birds. Here 
were all of these things, and more — for here was 
Gabrielle. 

Murad looked full upon her. His eyes flashed, his 
bosom heaved and the rebel blood went storming to 
his temples. The muscles tightened in his arm as 
when he had wielded that glittering scimitar. When 
he looked at her, Gabrielle flushed and bent her head, 
though she knew not why. Presently she raised her 
eyes, and before the frank blue peace within them 
Murad^s soul grew calm again. 

Gabrielle was not a woman as Murad had known 
women in the madness of his youth. She was not a 
woman as the East regarded women — but a being im- 
measurably above the level of fountains and perfumes, 
above all the promises of the Prophet’s paradise. 

^Wes, the world is very beautiful,” she said in- 
consequently ; “but I understand nothing of it until 
I am with you. I merely glance at things, and 
pass on.” 

“A wise man,” observed Murad, “sees more of 
God’s wonders in the petal of a rose, than does a fool 
who journeys far to Mecca.” 

216 


THE PLAYTHING 


GabrieUe sprang up laughing, and tossed the drops 
of water from her hands. Yes, I know, but I love 
to be a fool, for I have you to tell me about 
everything. And you are very, very wise.^’ 

Murad colored confusedly : “I did not mean that ; 
I meant 

^^Yes, I understand. But you do know ever so 
much, and I know nothing. Let me see. I can count 
upon my fingers the things I know. 

can cook — Jean vows I cook very well, when 
Margot helps. I can knit — a little 5 I can sing — if no 
one listens 5 I can recite the seven penitential psalms, 
and every word in the priviUge du Boij which is very 
tedious if one be continually writing it as a punish- 
ment for bad penmanship. And I know some of the 
prayers off by heart. There! That is all — and I 
have four fingers left quite empty. Can you not tell 
me something to put on them, and I shall know a 
little more! 

Murad could not but join her in a laugh, and fall 
into the merriment of her mood. 

Very well,^^ he agreed j ‘^sit here, in the shade ; 
take the globe in both your hands — so.’^ Murad’s 
hand touched hers, and she felt the warmth of it. 

GabrieUe took her place upon the bench, and Murad 
sat cross-legged on the rug at her feet, after the 
fashion of Eastern story-teUers. 

There was once a wise man in Persia,” he began, 
“ a man of life so pure he could divine the thoughts of 
other men. Much of his wisdom has been lost, for 
those who foUowed after have found their minds too 
much occupied by matters of the world to meditate 
upon the things of heaven. ’Twas he that made a 
217 


GABRIELLE 


globe like unto this and filled it with a fluid so subtle 
that by holding it in one’s hand and warming it with 
one’s blood it drew such virtues to itself as to reflect 
the soul — as a mirror gives back faithfully the 
features which pass before it.” 

Gabrielle glanced down at the globe, looking appre- 
hensively from it to Murad. ^^Can this globe do 
that?” she asked. 

“Yes. See how clear and pure the liquid is j it is 
but a mirror of your thoughts, i^’ow I beg you to 
think of some evil you have done j think hard and 
hold it tight.” 

Gabrielle tried to do as he bade her j she wrinkled 
her brow and thought. The liquid stirred vaguely, 
but did not change its color. Murad watched the 
globe, and smiled: “See, it stirs and trembles in 
bewilderment. Of what did you think?” 

“I thought of the night in the convent when I 
held the rope so they could not ring the bell for mass.” 

“It could not have been a deadly sin,” Murad 
assured her. “Think of something else. Think of 
the time when you were most frightened.” 

Gabrielle glanced swiftly at the top of the wall, and 
thought of her terror when the banana leaf flapped 
against it. Then she glanced at Murad’s window. 

“Look ! ” Murad pointed out a tumult in the globe. 
“It trembles violently. See the streak of crimson 
in the centre, like a blush that comes and dies away. 
Of what were you thinking ? ” 

“I cannot tell you. I will not tell you,” she 
answered hastily. 

^ ‘ Were you in trouble ? ’ ’ 

“Oh no, not that.” 


218 


THE PLAYTHING 


Murad questioned her no further, for he knew. 
Gabrielle held the globe in her palm until it grew 
clear again, except for the doubt which lingered 
mistily in its depths. 


219 


CHAPTER XX 

THE SOUL WHICH WAS GABRIELLE 


It came near unto ten of the morning. Murad 
bent over his table absorbed by what went on within 
the crystal globe before him — Gabrielle. That other 
globe — ^his stormy-hearted brother — Murad did not 
touch, but devoted himself body and brain to the new 
study of a new problem. 

With intense satisfaction he noted how readily this 
globe responded to his will. He had but to hold it in 
his palm and fix his thoughts upon Gabrielle when the 
subtle fluid began to stir. Ripples passed as smiles 
wavered across her face ; eddies gathered in it like 
dimples — a thousand moods a minute, variable as the 
shadows and the shines of April. 

^‘How marvellously sensitive she is,’^ said Murad 
half aloud. He searched into the uttermost depths 
but found no taint of evil thought or deed. There was 
one cloud, which she hid even from herself. In the 
deep blue of Gabrielle’ s eyes Murad had often seen 
this same mist, not strong enough to cast a shadow. 

Murad laid the globe upon the table and walked to 
the window. There he stood, allowing eyes and 
thoughts to roam at will through the boundless beauty 
of the summer. Wlien he turned from the window 
back to the globe again, it was pulseless and pallid. 
He had forgotten it. 


220 


THE SOUL WHICH WAS GABRIELLE 


lie muttered; tinder without a spark, 
soil without the seed, a body lacking breath. It is 
dead — ^but lives ; insensate — yet it feels. How close is 
man to God — an atom of the Divine Essence, yet he 
comprehends it not.^’ Murad knew that he could stir 
the heart of Gabrielle, fire her soul, and plant what- 
ever seed he chose within her mind. The man bowed 
before the marvel. He knew that his touch, his will, 
could wake this senseless clay, even as the l^azarene 
Prophet had waked the widow’s son. 

Selim came slipping in like a shadow and stood 
silent until his master glanced toward him. ^^A 
ship,” he said; ^^she seems of the French.” Selim 
pointed to the window at the front. 

With great caution Murad peeped through the 
shutter and watched the ship move slowly up the river. 
She dropped her anchor as a weary traveller might 
lay down his pack. The broad white pennon of 
France fluttered from her poop, waved above the 
noblest river in all the world, then hung quite still. 

Boats swarmed about her, and the entire population 
of the colony congregated along the banks. Keenly as 
Murad was interested he could not tell whence she 
came or what tidings she brought. 

Grosjean stood boldly out, apart from the throng, 
consorting with none. 

^‘I shall not fret for what I cannot help,” thought 
Murad ; and he fell to watching the boats that came 
and went. 

The globe which was Gabrielle he still clasped in 
his hand. ISTow he saw Gabrielle herself run across 
the open space, touch her father’s arm, and ask a 
question. Grosjean nodded, half-doubtfully, and 
221 


GABRIELLE 


pointed to the figure of a young man who leaned over 
the bulwarks of the ship directing the loading of a 
boat. 

Gabrielle gazed at this man ; she trembled j her 
figure shrank. She turned and fled to the house 
again. 

Murad glanced down at the globe. It was in com- 
motion as if some clear lake were lashed by a sudden 
wind. 

Something has happened/^ Murad said to himself. 

When Gabrielle came into the garden that day at 
noon a suspicion of redness lingered about her eyes. 
She moved dully and scarcely glanced at Murad. He 
asked her no questions until she seated herself upon 
the bench and took up the Fan of the Thousand Eyes, 
which gave her no joy. With head bent forward she 
stared at a cypress vine as if counting its stars of red 
and white. Her lips trembled like the quivering 
cypress leaves. 

Murad approached her step by step, and laid his 
hand upon her shoulder : ^ ^ Gabrielle, can you not 
share your worry with your friend ? 

^^Oh, it’s nothing, she answered wearily. “It is 
nothing. Only I have had such a fright. Jean told 
me that my husband had arrived on that ship ’ ’ 

“Your husband f ” Murad gasped. 

“ Yes ; it is very wicked for me to feel this way — ^but 
I cannot help it.” 

There was a silence, a long silence. Murad stared 
at the girl as though he refused to understand. 

“ Your husband? ” he repeated. 

“Yes, I am married; had I never told you? I 
222 


THE SOUL WHICH WAS GABRIELLE 


forgot.’’ Gabrielle bowed her headj sbe dared not 
raise her eyes. 

But you never mentioned it,” be murmured; 

did not suspect. I ” 

I thought nothing of it. I was very happy.” 
Then she lifted her head defiantly and in the firm lines 
about her chin Murad recognized Grosjean’s daughter. 

I did not tell. I told no one. I put it aside as 
long as I could. Why should I not enjoy these last 
days in my own way. I’ve done no harm.” 

Defiant as was her tone, Murad detected the trem- 
bling at the corners of her mouth; and her eyes 
threatened to overflow. 

“IIo, my Gabrielle,” he assured her, “you have 
done no harm.” But his voice did not seem the voice 
of Murad. 

She sprang up and clenched her hands : “You do 
not know ; you cannot understand. I want to stay 
here — with — my father. I won’t go to France ; I 
wonH ” 

Murad waited, the storm within him beating against 
the serenity of his face. He waited, and once he lifted 
his hand with that gesture which Gabrielle remem- 
bered best of all : “Sit down, my Gabrielle, and tell 
me of it.” 

“There is nothing to tell. Jean brought me home 
from the convent two weeks ago. He said my hus- 
band would arrive on the next ship. I was such a 

fool ; I thought I should like to see Paris, and ” 

The sentence floated away unfinished and lost itself 
amongst the tree tops. 

^ ^ Y our husband ? Y our husband ? ” It took Murad 
a long time to comprehend. 

223 


GABRIELLE 


^^Yes, yes/’ she began hurriedly j ^^you do not 
know!” 

Tell me,” he said very simply. He stood with- 
out moving. “Tell me,” was all he said. 

“I scarcely remember. His father brought him 
here on a ship from France. Jean took me from the 
convent one night. We stood up together, the boy 
and I — before a priest. After that they told me I was 
married. I did not know. I thought every one was 
married. Jean bade the old man and the boy good- 
bye, and carried me back to the convent. I was very 
sleepy. It was cold. The priest spilled some water. 
That is all I remember.” 

^ ^ But your husband ? ’ ’ 

“ I do not remember. I never thought of him. He 
was a little boy, and I looked all the while at his 
father, who had a curious mustachio. When Jean left 
me at the convent Mother Louise came into my room. 
She clasped me tightly in her arms, called me a poor 
little dear, and kissed me. I wondered at it then. I 
never did understand until now. After that no one 
ever spoke of it, and I forgot.” 

“ How old were you ! ” asked Murad ; his voice was 
steady enough, but there had come a change. 

Gabrielle noticed nothing j she only answered his 
question. 

“ I was five years old.” 

“ And what was his age ! ” 

“I am not sure. I think Mother Louise said he 
was ten years older than I.” 

Murad tightened his arms to curb the swelling of 
his breast ; he turned away and stared at the top of 
the wall where that line of broken glass fastened its 
224 


THE SOUL WHICH WAS GABRIELLE 


jagged teeth into the sky. Twice or thrice he essayed 
to speak, but it was long before he put his thought in 
words. 

^‘Then — then you have not seen him since that 
night ? He leaned forward with a singular light in 
his eyes — a jealous, unreasoning light. 

He has been in France, I suppose. I have 
been here.^^ 

Murad straightened. A load fell from his shoulders. 
He stood erect, his nostrils dilated and his lips shut 
very tight. 

thought no more about it,^^ Gabrielle spoke on 
hurriedly, half to herself and half to him. It was 
never talked of in the convent. Two or three months 
ago Jean wrote Mother Louise it was near the time for 
my husband to come j she must make preparations for 
me to leave the convent. As if there were prepara- 
tions to make — two dresses in a basket — a handful of 
linen — four reticules and some embroidery made for 
me by the sisters. I was soon ready. And then — ’’ 
Gabrielle^ s tears bubbled desperately near the surface 
— then I came into the garden. You were here, and 
I forgot. You do not mind my talking about it, do 
you ? I have no one else to talk with. Margot is old, 
and Jean — Jean does not understand. 

Murad lifted his hand — the gesture of peace, though 
there was no peace in him. 

Gabrielle continued : ^ ^ Jean does not discuss it. 
Sometimes a girl must talk to some one. I do not know 
why, but I feel freer to talk with you than with my 
father. I do not need to explain ; you seem to knowJ^ 

Gabrielle clasped her hands about her knees and feU 
to studying the pattern of the rug. 

15 225 


GABRIELLE 


It was deathly still. A magnolia leaf dropped 
splashing into the fountain. A thrush settled down 
upon the coping. The thrush twisted her head to one 
side and fixed her eyes upon the man who stood star- 
ing at this woman who sat perfectly rigid, and without 
a semblance of life. The thrush could not understand. 
The thrush became frightened at the stillness. The 
thrush fiew away. 

“You say it was not true ? Murad asked. 

Gabrielle glanced up, understanding even this vague 
and half-formed question. 

“ Yes. At first Jean thought he had come on that 
ship, and pointed out a man to me. But it was not 
true 5 my husband had only sent a letter, saying he 
would arrive in about two weeks. ’ ’ 

Murad instantly remembered the glimpse he had 
caught of Gabrielle that morning when she ran out of 
the house and spoke to Grosjean. He understood now 
why the girl should have been so stunned and bewil- 
dered when her father pointed out a man on the 
vessel’s deck. All of this he had seen in the globe. 
So he asked Gabrielle no questions. He only said, 
“In two weeks?” 

“Two weeks 5 two weeks.” Gabrielle’ s face was 
very white and vacant. “ Why, that is fourteen days, 

and it will be thirty-nine days before ” she glanced 

at the foot of the pine. 

“ Thirty-nine days,” he assented. 

Gabrielle rocked to and fro, her hands clasped 
about her knees. Suddenly she sprang up and fronted 
him with a face as set and determined as her father’ s 
had ever been. “I shall not go. I wUl not go. I 
must stay here until — until — ^the end.” 

226 


THE SOUL WHICH WAS GABRIELLE 


The blood went plunging through Murad^s veins 
like a hound unleashed. Had Gabrielle been more of 
a woman she would have seen the haggard lines at 
Murad’s mouth, and would have known the meaning 
of the light which flashed into his eye. But straight 
as she looked him in his face she saw neither of these 
things. 

“Oh, Murad! Murad! I cannot go away and 
leave you here — and not know.” She moved forward 
and laid her hand upon the fulness of his sleeve. 

“i^'ay, my Gabrielle,” he answered; “let it not 
worry you ; even the stars must travel as they are 
sent.” 

“But I must know; I must know,” she insisted. 
“ My husband must not return at once to France. I 
shall come at the same hour each day.” 

Murad sought to tell her that she must not venture 
into the garden after her husband arrived, but she 
could not understand his explanations. So he held 
his peace. 

“Last night,” Gabrielle spoke most quietly, “I 
sat at my window as the moon came up. I never 
before realized how bright and glorious is the world. 
But one feels so very small in the moonlight? Did 
you ever notice it ? ” Gabrielle made pathetic effort to 
divert attention from the one dominant thought. 

“Yes, I have felt it,” he answered, “gazing upon 
the inconceivable stars of heaven. Many of them are 
hundreds of times larger than our world. Amongst 
the multitude of human souls, living, dead, unborn — 
think how wretchedly insignificant is one.” 

“Yes, I believe I have thought of that. Anyway, 
I always felt small in the moonlight, and now I know 
227 


GABRIELLE 


why. You have taught me much ; you have made 
me think. Sometimes you say one little word and 
it keeps me thinking ever so hard for days.’’ Ga- 
brielle’s hand dropped from his sleeve and hung at 
her side j presently it crept hack and touched the 
sleeve again. 

Yes,” she said, determined to be cheerful, it is 
as if you had opened for me door after door, each 
leading to thoughts more interesting than the other. 
I had only known this little world around me, and 
supposed it was all. You have made me think many 
wise things, and do many silly ones.” Gabrielle 
thought of her visit to the pavilion the night before j 
she smiled, then laughed aloud. She stood in front of 
him with finger uplifted, as Sister Conflans always did 
in the class room : Now if I tell you something very 
childish you will not make sport of me, or be angry ? 
Promise*?” 

promise,” he said most solemnly, and won- 
dered what was coming. 

^^It was very foolish I assure you. But from the 
first moment I saw that couch in the pavilion I have 
been distraught to know how a sultana feels — you said 
^sultana’ didn’t you? Some day you must tell me 
what that means. We had tiny pens at the convent 
to sleep in, and at home there’s a huge bed. Neither 
of them resembles this couch in the least. I wanted 
to try it. 

^^Now, do not be angry. Last night I slipped into 
the garden ever so cautiously. A light burned in 
your window. I could recognize your shadow on the 
ceiling. I got into the pavilion all safe enough. I 
much desired to have those queer lamps burning, and 
228 


THE SOUL WHICH WAS GABRIELLE 


that dear little furnace which smells so sweet. But I 
dared not j you^d be sure to see the light. Perhaps 
you’ d come out and scold. So I crept into the couch 
and tried to imagine how a sultana felt who lived that 
way all the time. Or the people who live in — what 
did you call it ? — not exactly like our convents ? You 
need not stare at me that way, I had on no shoes and 
did not hurt your precious couch one speck. Go and 
examine it this moment ; it is not even rumpled. 

was lying there perfectly quiet when I heard a 
noise which frightened me very much. I thought of 
course it must be Uncle Paul -Marie’s ghost. But it 
was only you, and I was so relieved. Then father 
came, and you both went away. I listened ” 

Murad looked at her so very straight that Gabrielle 
felt uneasy. 

^^And you,” he asked, coming closer, ^^were in 
that pavilion all the while?” 

She nodded. 

“You saw — you heard — me ? ” 

“Yes,” Gabrielle laughed 5 “you were talking to 
yourself. Mother Louise says it is only demented 
people that talk to themselves. But you spoke in a 

tongue which I could not comprehend ” Gabrielle 

stopped suddenly ; she remembered now that she had 
understood his actions if not his words. 

“I saw Jean when he brought you the letter,” she 
added hastily. ^ ^ Then both of you went to the house. ’ ’ 

Murad said nothing, absolutely nothing. He only 
glanced from the girl to the pavilion. 

“After a while,” Gabrielle continued, “ I grew 
lonesome. The garden was dreadfully still. I crept 
home again.” 


229 


GABRIELLE 


Presently Gabrielle sighed and remarked, ^ ^ It is 
strange how one gets lonesome when one is grown up. 
I used to play in this garden for hours and hours 
together. But one has more imagination when one is 
a child — and imagination is much company. Is it 
not true? 

“Yes, it is true,^’ Murad kept saying to himself 
long after Gabrielle had gone. 


230 


CHAPTER XXI 

IN THE HEART OF THE STORM 


God’s heaven writhed. Mnrad gazed from the 
window and felt himself a partner in its turbulence. 

A storm swept up from somewhere, more furiously 
sudden than the onslaught of a charging squadron 
which dashes out of the forest and spatters a smiling 
field with murder. The roar of battle boomed out of 
the scowling west, muttered and grumbled in the over- 
heated south. 

Eushing horsemen of the skies galloped across un- 
seen bridges j the thunder of their hoofe echoed in a 
thousand chasms beneath. Serried ranks of spear- 
tops glittered as a long line of warriors with golden 
helmets marched across the far horizon. The spiteful 
lightning drew them sharp against the skies. Their 
fiaming pennons fluttered and war-drums beat at the 
head of gleaming hosts. 

The man at the window smiled as though he felt his 
kinship with the tempest. Faint and distant there 
came the rumble of wheels — at first artillery, then in- 
terminable wagon trains. Sullen bombards bellowed. 
The hoarse shouts of men rose above the rattle of arms. 
The earth crouched in a mighty fear, bent its back, 
and breathed not. 

Then the rain. A vicious drop or two flattened 
against the window of Dumb House. Afterwards a 
231 


GABRIELLE 


torrent, volley upon volley, deluge upon deluge. They 
lashed and dashed against the window where Murad 
stood, as wet sails flap their tattered ends against the 
mast. Murad did not stir. 

Swirling spouts of water strangled and died outside 
the window. The rain came not downward, but slant- 
wise in glittering sheets. Murad pressed his face 
against the pane. The broad banana leaves were 
stripped as though a comb had lacerated them. Their 
succulent stems were broken j they fell across the 
path. 

But it was the giant pine whose struggle fascinated 
Murad. He bent his head this way and that, and 
thrashed his arms about him, like God^s anointed 
leader contending with a thousand foes. 

“On yesterday,’^ Murad murmured, “the garden 
and all of God^s world was at peace. On yesterday I 
was at peace. Why should I be at war to-day % Ko 
more than the garden did I call this storm upon 
myself.’^ 

Suddenly a branch snapped from the pine, and 
hung like a broken arm against the trunk. But the 
tree stood firm, and gave backward not a foot. 
Murad’s breast swelled ; if he but possessed the spirit 
of this pine he too might stand firm. 

“Oh !” he exclaimed, and brushed the mist from 
the pane. Something moved in the garden — some- 
thing other than broken branches and flapping banana 
leaves. ^ ^ Gabrielle ! Gabrielle ! ’ ’ The shout was on 
his lips before he thought to hush it. Then lest Selim 
should think strange things of what he did, Murad 
withdrew into his own apartments and swiftly de- 
scended the stairs. 


232 


IN THE HEART OF THE STORM 


At the door of the lower hall his fingers trembled 
on the latch. He opened the door. A torrent gushed 
in, rain and wind and flying leaves. The doors up- 
stairs slammed violently. Selim miglit think what he 
chose, it did not matter. 

Murad thrust his shoulders into the storm, breasted 
the wind, and beat his advance against it. His robes 
fluttered behind him ; he pressed his turban tighter 
and drew a long breath of that madly insurgent air. 

The paths ran with water ; every lily cup was over- 
flowing. Murad plunged on. Beneath the rending 
branches of the pine he saw Gabrielle — but not the 
Gabrielle he knew. 

A battle delirium possessed her. The blood of war- 
rior ancestors throbbed at the whiteness of her throat. 
Murad held back and hid behind the cannas. 

Gabrielle heard only the voices of the storm, the 
screaming of the wind, the beating of her own heart — 
and the cry from her own prison. The air was full 
of whistling leaves and whirring branches ; frightened 
creatures cowered in their burrows ; the willows bent 
before the fury of the tempest. Gabrielle and the 
pine stood erect. 

A bird went driving past her, hurled ahead of the 
storm. She saw it turn suddenly downward and dash 
against the wall. She ran over and picked up the 
creature — crushed and dead, but trembling yet, and 
warm. A drop of blood oozed from its mouth and 
stained her hand. “Poor bird,’^ she whispered, 
^ you suffer no more. But you rode upon the wings 
of a tempest. You were free — -free. That was some- 
thing.’^ 

Still stroking the bird in her hand she came back to 
233 


GABRIELLE 


the pine. ^^But you lived — ^you livedj if it were only 
for an hour. You shall rest here in the garden, at 
peace forever.’^ Gabrielle pressed it to her lips, then 
knelt and hid the quivering bird beneath a palmetto. 

She wore Grosjean^s heavy coat which protected 
her to the knees. Murad noticed the rough garment 
whose fringe seemed made of the skin of a beast. Her 
head was bare ; the fingers of the wind clutched at 
her hair, tugging, pulling, straining. She fronted 
the blast and smiled, such a smile as Murad had never 
seen upon the face of any woman. 

Gabrielle’ s lips opened eagerly to the storm j her 
eyes shone and followed the lightning, in joy at the 
terror of it. Suddenly she unbound her hair, shook 
her head, and gave the wind a plaything. There ! 
Take it ; take it. Do as you will with it — and with 
me.” 

Gabrielle was free — in heart and soul and body she 
was free. She moved from the pine, disdaining its 
mockery of shelter. Murad could not guess what she 
meant to do until she flung her cloak wide-open and 
stepped out beneath the crackling heavens. She 
threw her arms abroad, and drank in the tempest 
bke a starving animal. Her bosom swelled ; her eyes 
sparkled j her figure heightened. 

A battering downpour hurled itself against the 
earth. Gabrielle stood midmost of the storm with the 
rains pelting at her cheeks, with the winds lashing 
at her hair, flapping her skirts and snatching her 
cloak. She stood, a defiant atom, with naught between 
her uplifted face and the lightning of God the Most 
High. 

Murad understood the ecstasy of this woman’ s soul, 
234 


IN THE HEART OF THE STORM 


the joy of its shattered fetters. He read upon her face 
the gladness that comes in secret to every woman who 
defies the law, human and divine — the woman who 
without shrinking pays the penalty. 

He did not move ; he watched Gabrielle’s heaving 
breast, he watched her eyes that closed dreamily, the 
nails that clenched tightly in her palms. With her 
he felt the warring passions that whirled around her. 

She glanced towards Murad^s window, glanced at 
the fountain and laughed aloud. She did not care. 
Why should she care? She closed her eyes again, and 
from the cup of tumult Gabrielle drank the draught 
of peace. 

Slowly her eyes unclosed and she smiled — an incom- 
prehensible careless smile, as if she were weary of the 
struggle. ‘^Take that, too, if you like,^’ she said 
aloud, unwilling to quarrel with the wind. 

Smiling she unloosed the fastening at the throat, let- 
ting the cloak fly away, unheeded and unwatched. 

Murad caught the floating thing which passed him 
on the wind as if a tempest demon had entered it. 
With his face against the rain he brought it to her. 

Your cloak, my Gabrielle,’^ he said j ^^Tis best to 
wear it.” And he bound it round her shoulders. 

Gabrielle wheeled. ^^You here! Why do you 
come here in the storm? Storms are for such as I 
— not for you. Can I never be alone? Never be 
free ? ’ ^ She faced him and her eyes flamed, her cheeks 
burned ; the whir of the tempest was in her tones. 

^‘And you?” Murad asked quietly. ^^Why 
should you be abroad in such a storm ? ” 

Her answer came with the unbridled fury of the 
tempest: why shouldnT I? Always Fve been 

235 


GABRIELLE 


bound by rules and bells — rules and bells j rise by 
rules, study by rules, eat by rules — rules and bells 
— rules — rules — rules. I bate them. I am a human 
creature, not a spinning wheel. I am made of flesh 
and blood, not of wood. You — you are a man 5 
you can go into the world. You can fight and kill j 
you can sin and suffer. You can live, live, 

Murad lifted his hand, but heedless even of that 
Gabrielle’s protest burst out again: ^^Do you not 
think a woman too must live? Has a woman no 
right to live — no right to suffer — for it is all a part of 
life ? I have never been happy, never been miserable 
— never been anything. I have merely breathed and 
ate and slept — like the pigs in the convent sty. I am 
no better than they. How I hate it ! Hate it ! The 
very futility of her rage made Gabrielle stamp her 
foot. Then she stood facing him, with her back to the 
storm : 

“fused to sit at the convent window, she began 
again more quietly in one of the lulls that fell, “and 
watch the men go off to war. I saw their boats go 
round the last curve in the river and my thoughts 
followed them. Those men were free — the whole vast 
continent was theirs. There was not a white- washed 
fence, not a convent rule, not a bell, no matter where 
they journeyed.” 

Murad, facing the storm upon which she had turned 
her back, felt her garments fluttering towards him. 
He felt the long whip -lashes of her hair as they cut 
his cheek. But the woman^s arms and soul were lifted 
to the skies — to the impotent skies — and not to Murad. 

“I used to watch the hunters stride into the forest. 
They could turn wherever they listed and none to say 
236 


IN THE HEART OF THE STORM 


them nay — no fence — no rules — no bells. I’d watch 
the birds soaring above the clouds and wish that I 
had wings to fly straight into the face of God. Are 
you not afraid to stand here in the lightning and 
listen to that ? Are you not afraid a bolt may strike 
you 1 I dare it ! 

Sometimes I’d see a deer running across the flelds 
— free — unchained — living. Perhaps the hunters slew 
it, what of that? While it lived the deer was free. 
Do you understand that ? Free ! 

Once I saw some children playing up and down 
the levee in the wind, imitating the birds. I knew 
how they felt, and pitied them — poor little beasts, they 
were chained to the earth and longing for the clouds. 

remember one dark night,” Gabrielle spoke 
breathlessly as if unconscious of her listener ; ^Hhere 
was a blinding rain. I crept out on the roof — ^but I 
cannot tell you that. Yes, yes, I can, what a fool am 
I. I crept out on the roof, threw my clothes aside and 
let the torrent strike me — the wind and the rain — 
strike me, not my garments. There ! I have told you. 
I wish Mother Louise could hear it ! I wish God 
could hear it ! 

It is the wind and the rain and the lightning that 
make me rebel. But the mood will pass, everything 
passes with a woman. To-morrow I shall go down on 
my knees, tell my beads, mumble my paters and do 
my penance like a good little gray nun. Ugh ! how I 
loathe myself! ” 

Gabrielle glanced at Murad’s face. No storm was 
there unless it were deep in those inscrutable eyes. 
No storm was in his face, but there was that sullen 
calm that comes before the storm. 

237 


GABRIELLE 


Defiant as was her humor, something warned Ga- 
brielle to desist. 

You think I am very foolish, do you not ? 

^^No, I can understand; the clouds burst when they 
are overcharged. Breezes that would scarcely stir a 
feather break loose and destroy oaks in their freedom. 
The patient camel slays his driver. Contented nations 
rise and put their kings to death ” 

Gabrielle broke into a peal of laughter, the laughter 
that is a shield and a subterfuge. ^^How siUy of us 
to stand here in the rain. I’m wet through and 
through.” 

She turned and fled more swiftly than the deer she 
had described. The grapevine dashed a shower to the 
ground as she parted it. 

Murad stood as she left him, silent, erect, and heed- 
less of the fast-abating storm. 


238 


CHAPTER XXII 

THE LULL 


The glorious sun awakened Gabrielle, streaming 
through, her windows, a swarm of dazzling motes 
winking and blinking at her in its trail. The curtains 
etched their intricate patterns upon the floor, swaying 
with the dreamiest of motion. 

Gabrielle opened her eyes and lay with both hands 
underneath her head, thinking, and trying not to 
think. In the patch of heaven at which she gazed, 
measureless and blue, there was not the tiniest cloud. 
There was not a tremor of wind to recall the passion 
of yesterday. Gabrielle^ s eyes were not so clear j the 
tempest had left its trace within them. 

On yesterday the wind had spent its spite upon its 
friends, strewing the earth with broken branches and 
tattered blossoms, driving the birds to shelter, and 
lashing its comrade, the river, into a frenzy. It had 
littered land and sea with wrecks. 

To-day was a day of penitence, of sighs and soft 
caresses. Gabrielle, like the wind, had need for 
absolution. 

What a fool I was,^^ she said j then closed her eyes 
as if she meant to go to sleep again and forget it. 
Presently she rose and knelt beside the window with 
her elbow on the sill. The world smiled like a child’s 
bright face from its washing. 

239 


GABRIELLE 


had no right to be in the garden j none what- 
ever. It was my garden before he came. Anyway, I 
do not care j I 

The world, encased in shining dreams, lay before 
her. hTo leaf stirred, no ripple fretted the river, and 
no voice came of man or beast. Gabrielle looked upon 
the glittering water and wondered what would happen 
should the sun drop down and touch it. Would it 
sizzle and spit as when a coal of fire falls into a pot? 

^^Oh dear! Mother Louise was right. I never 
think twice. 

Nature’s tempestuous mood had passed, and so had 
GabrieUe’s. The sky and the winds and the river 
acknowledged their error j Gabrielle fought hard 
against admitting hers. She shut her lips and put on 
the armor of defiance. Then she began putting on 
other things, slowly and deliberately, pausing over 
each garment and shaking her head. 

“I don’t care. I don’t care. I shall not go into the 
garden to-day,” she decided. Having settled this 
controversy with herself she moved about her room 
vigorously and viciously. 

“Yes, I’ll look at those dresses. They are very 
beautiful. Jean would like me to wear one. It was 
silly of me not to wear them long ago.” Gabrielle 
tossed the dresses helter-skelter, holding them upside 
down and wrong side out. She laughed. “ I vow I do 
not know how to put these on, whether to jump in 
from the top or crawl in through the bottom. How 
foolish? I shall get some one to help me dress — like 
a baby.” 

Gabrielle found one dress more simple, a gown of 
white with flowers that ran hither and thither in sprays 
240 


THE LULL 


across it. She did not know what flowers they were ; 
she had never seen the like — none grew in this garden, 
and surely all the flowers of all the world grew there. 
Gabrielle spread the dress in the sunshine, and clasped 
her hands about her knees. 

^^It’s near the color of wistaria,’^ she decided; 
^^and here’s a belt to match. I’ll wear that — if I can 
get into it.” Gabrielle laughed nervously ; it was very 
exciting. How curious she would look ; but the color 
suited her, even Gabrielle could see that. 

“Jean will like it.” She regarded herself compla- 
cently in the mirror. “But I shall not go into the 
garden to-day. No, I shall not,” she repeated, walk- 
ing up and down before the mirror. She stopped: 
“Now, if I could go in there all by myself as I used to 
do before he came and spoiled it, what fun ’twould be 
to see the birds flutter ; they would never know me. 
And that big-eyed rabbit would stare until his eyes 
popped out. What a shame that I have no place to 
myself. But I shall not go there to-day.” 

Nevertheless, when noon came, Gabrielle crept 
through the breach in the wall, using exceeding care 
to avoid soiling her dress. It was unusual for her to 
think of any dress, yet now she thought of little else. 
She parted the grapevine cautiously, meaning to take 
Murad unawares — to deluge him with chatter and avoid 
uncomfortable references to yesterday. But Murad 
was not in sight. The garden was strewn with 
wreckage. 

She pouted and turned back. ^ ^ I shall let him wait. 
It will do him good to wait.” But it was very hot 
beneath the vines and she feared to move lest she bring 
down a shower upon her new dress. “I shall slip out 
16 241 


GABRIELLE 


and hide in the pavilion.’’ She flashed out of the 
vines, darted down the path, sprang like a deer over a 
magnolia limb which had fallen across the path, and 
stopped in front of the pavilion. 

The tent was closed. Gabrielle’s Angers unbuttoned 
it nervously j she entered, and fastened the flap behind 
her. Inside it was dry and in perfect order — the 
couch, the taborets, many things which she had never 
yet had time to examine. 

“ Dear me ! What a wonder the wind did not carry 

it away. The oak is broken and the bananas ” 

Gabrielle peered through a crevice to see if Murad 
was coming. 

I’ m glad there’ s nobody here. I can look at these 
things all by myself.” She peeped out of the tent 
again to be very sure that Murad was not coming. 

^^What queer printing there is in these books. I 
wonder if anybody really reads it. I hope he will not 
come. ’ ’ She glanced at the couch, smiled and shrugged 
her shoulders. 

knew he’d be angry with me about lying down 
on his couch ; but I do not care, it was great fun.” 

The cushions which belonged upon the bench were 
piled in a corner. Murad had probably put them there 
in anticipation of the rain. She looked at them, then 
glanced out, towards the door of Dumb House. 

Gabrielle turned the leaves of book after book, yet 
kept her eyes upon the crevice of the tent, listening 
for the rustle of a weed or the scraping of a pebble. 

“Wouldn’t it be nice to take a nap. I could take 
a real nap — I have a whole hour.” But there was a 
restless spirit about this pavilion which entered Ga- 
brielle j she remembered the day when all these 
242 


THE LULL 


censers were burning, remembered the heavy odors 
and the glitter in Murad’s eyes ; she remembered the 
strange stirring within herself which had frightened 
her. Yet she flung herself across the couch, digging 
her heels like a vandal into those luxurious coverings. 

^^Whew! How sweet it smells!” Gabrielle 
closed her eyes and kept them shut very tight. 

^^Oh, dear!” she exclaimed presently j never 
could go to sleep in the daytime.” She sprang up 
and smoothed out her dress; Gabrielle must have a 
care not to rumple her clothes. Then she spread the 
coverlet of the couch most carefully. ^^He’ll never 
know ! ” 

After that she peeped from the door. iN'o one was 
coming. She had the tent and the garden aU to 
herself. 

The urns were very odd. The cushions were of ex- 
ceeding intricate design ; and of all queer bottles the 
two that sat upon the taboret were the queerest. But 
Gabrielle wearied. She opened the flap of the tent 
and held it wide, A quick thought came ; she glanced 
at Murad’s window. “Yes, now is the time; I shall 
look for myself.” She ran to the fountain. 

First she stood close beside the basin and looked 
towards Murad’s window. An expression of doubt 
settled on her face. 

“I cannot be sure. If I had been standing right 
here — or here — or here ; or if I ran around ; — or 
chased that miserable rabbit ? Was that the day? Oh 
dear ! I can’t remember what I did. I don’t care ; I 
don’t care.” She sat down on the coping and scraped 
her heels back and forth in the damp sand. Then she 
laughed. “I might as well not care. I’ll never know, 
243 


GABRIELLE 


The window is a long ways off anyhow.’’ Gabrielle 
comforted herself with that. 

She sat beside the fountain. Her body was very 
still, but her thoughts were restless. What a strong 
wind that was. The oak is gone j poor old fellow, we 
were such good comrades.” 

Gabrielle walked slowly to the fallen tree and stood 
beside it, caressing the rough bark with her fingers. 
Then she sat upon one of its branches and gazed about 
the garden to see what other damage the storm had 
done. Once she glanced into her own heart at the up- 
rooted ideals, the storm-strewn beliefs, and the naked 
branches. The branches were ugly. She shook her 
head and refused to look at them. Instead she turned 
her eyes upon the garden; it were safer to think of that. 

^‘I’m glad those hollyhocks are broken and twisted ; 
they stood so prim and proper, like a row of girls in 
the white class. I’ve always wanted to run against 
them and knock them down.” 

Gabrielle’ s eyes wandered persistently towards the 
door of Dumb House. No lamb’s- wool robe moved 
slowly down the path ; no dark eyes thrilled her with 
a desire which she was beginning to understand. No 
one stood where the shadow fell, with folded arms and 
low voice, telling her stories. Gabrielle had her wish 
— she had her garden back again, her garden and her 
thoughts. 

Presently, as no one came from the house to inter- 
fere, she went and sat upon the coping of the fountain. 
Her old playmate, the rabbit, hopped out of his bur- 
row and came up very close. She kicked at him 
viciously. ^‘Get out of my way, you stupid; I hate 
you.” Gabrielle laughed disagreeably to see hiTn 
244 


THE LULL 


scurry off without once looking behind. Two gray 
squirrels disappeared into the fork of a treej their 
twinkling eyes looked down and wondered. 

^^In two weeks my husband will be here.’’ Her 
hands clenched nervously. She rose and began to 
walk along the paths, climbing over fallen branches 
and pushing aside the broken banana-stems. 

And it is thirty-seven days until the first of the 
Moon of Safar,” she said over and over again. 

There was peace and silence everywhere — stifling, 
desolate, threatening silence. ^‘Ko wonder,” she 
said, ^Hhat folk believed my Uncle Paul-Marie had 
gone mad. ’ ’ 

At every circuit of the garden she drew nearer and 
nearer to Murad’s vacant window. She came quite 
close and rested her elbow on the dial. The door 
stood half open. ^ ^ I will not, ’ ’ she said determinedly. 

She wheeled with the precision of a grenadier, strode 
to the grapevine, opened it and disappeared. 

Gabrielle came into her own room and stood at the 
window. He is ill,” she said 5 know he is ill — 
the rain and the wetting of yesterday. Sister Vero- 
nique was ill when she got a wetting. I want to go 
to him ; why do I not admit it ? why am I not truth- 
ful to myself? I shall go to him j he may need me.” 

She had already started down the stair when the 
front door opened and she heard Grosjean’s tread. 

“Gabrielle ! ” he called. 

“Here, Jean.” 

‘ ^ Come, daughter, hurry j I am going across the 
river. You shall ride with me in the boat. Hurry 
now.” 


245 


CHAPTER XXIII 

ACROSS THE THRESHOLD 


Another day had come, and again Gabrielle stood 
within the garden. 

“Why shouldn't I argued Gabrielle to herself. 
“He must be ill.^^ 

She stood midway the path, watching Murad^s 
empty window. Though it had passed the hour of 
noon no face looked out upon the garden and no 
sound came from within. She halted and looked 
wistfully about her. Gabrielle had none in whom 
she might confide, and her own counsels ran sadly at 
loggerheads. Her throat was very pure as she 
stretched it up towards the window j her eyes shone 
mistily and eager. Gabrielle had a wise little brain, 
and serious ideas began marching through it. But 
when they made too much noise she turned them out 
again. 

The dress that Sister Therese had made enveloped 
her with somewhat of the convent’s protection. 

“Why shouldn’t If” she insisted. “It is only 
thirty-six days now. We have lost one day.” 

The dress of the wistaria color moved onward, 
hesitant step after hesitant step. Through the pulse- 
less garden it moved towards the rear of Dumb 
House. At every step Gabrielle paused and listened, 
searching the window with anxious eyes. 

246 


ACROSS THE THRESHOLD 


^^Why shouldn’t I?” The woman instinct that 
there was in Gahrielle warned her with a reason. She 
leaned against the ancient dial, twenty paces from the 
door. And her shadow blotted out the hours all at 
once. The dial had told off many an hour of sun- 
shine for Gabrielle, and it now refused to register the 
hour of her trial. 

She could not explain these misgivings to herself ; 
she did not try. But when she approached the door 
the same old sense of danger struck her, like a chill 
draught in the face, and recalled every childish 
terror. 

will ! ” She ceased debating. 

Gabrielle at least was brave j at least she would be 
honest with herself. She hurried on and halted at 
the threshold. There she turned her eyes backward 
upon the garden. No one was there, no one could see 
her. Why should she care? She hung back unde- 
cided, though she had been four and twenty hours 
making up her mind. 

Four and twenty hours. It is a very long while 
for a young girl to spend in thinking. A girl who 
has never had a serious matter to ponder on might 
think of many things. 

There were four hours spent on the river when a 
girl might sit in a boat and listen to her father, and 
watch the black oarsmen dig into the water with their 
oars j she might watch the grim front of Dumb 
House and all the while be wondering what was con- 
cealed by those tight- shut windows. Dumb House 
shut its windows just as Mother Louise used to clench 
her lips, and there was no use in asking questions. 

247 


GABRIELLE 


A girl’s father might tell her tales of the river — 
how the ships came and went — ^the pirates of Santo 
Domingo. And when he said pirates” she would 
think of some one who had shown her the picture of 
a pirate ship. Oh yes, she knew what they were 
like ; there was one pirate ship that she never could 
forget. 

A girl might try very hard to fix her mind upon 
these stories her father told, but there was Dumb 
House, and everything her father said would make 
her think of it instead. 

All the way across the river a girl might keep 
glancing back, watching the windows of Dumb House 
grow less and less, until the house itself was nothing 
save a blur against the forest. Then the girl’s father 
might lay his hand upon her shoulder and say, 
^^Wake up! Tell me your dreams.” This, of 
course, would make a girl smile and sit ever so still 
in the boat. 

When the boat turned and came back a girl need 
not talk ,• neither need she glance over her shoulder. 
Dumb House lay straight ahead. The girl’s father 
might clasp her very close to him and whisper, ^ ^ Has 
the troll snapped off your tongue? ” 

Dumb House grew bigger and yet bigger as they 
returned, l^ow she could see the door, could even see 
the smaller windows and the iron bars. She wondered 
if there was an eye behind them that recognized her. 
A girl never knows how many things she may think 
about until she begins once to think. 

^‘Come, Gabrielle I ” Her father’s voice startled 
her. hope Margot has set us a good supper j this 
river air makes a man to hunger.” 

248 


ACROSS THE THRESHOLD 


A girPs own room may be very lonely, very 
strange, very chill. The moonlight, the river, the 
forest are very vast and vague when a girl leans her 
chin in her hands and stares out upon them. Many 
times she might repeat to herself, ^^He is ill, and I 
was the cause. I kept him out in the rain.^^ 

Though she might creep into bed and cover ever 
so snugly, sleep might be a long time in coming. 

Much may happen in four and twenty hours. 

^^Why shouldn’t I?” Gabrielle said for the last 
time, as she stood at the threshold of Dumb House. 
“The sick should be visited, and I cannot send for 
the sisters.” 

She glanced down at her wistaria-colored dress that 
suited her own coloring so well. She shook her head. 
It was too gay for a mission of mercy. Gabrielle 
wheeled and fled back through the garden and 
reached her own room. 

Breathlessly she put on her gown of gray. Then 
back she ran, and argued no more. With hands and 
heart grown bolder she pushed open the door. 

The door swung wide. She stepped into the haU 
with the light of day streaming in behind her. 
Once, years before, she had dared peep into this for- 
bidding entry, and she never forgot the clammy feel- 
ing which came over her. The child had run away j 
the woman only clenched her lips and said, “What a 
fool I am to be afraid.” 

Gabrielle advanced, seeing nothing distinctly after 
the glare of the garden. She looked around, not 
knowing where to And a door. “ It must be this 
way. ’ ’ She walked cautiously, her hands outstretched. 

249 


GABRIELLE 


Oh ! Gabrielle almost shrieked. She stumbled 
against something on the floor — something soft and 
flabby, something that lay very still. Her blood ran 
cold, but she did not cry aloud. Stiffened with terror 
she stared down at a dark body lying next the wall, 
a limp, dead thing that seemed to have fallen 
there. Her eyes were not yet accustomed to the 
darkness. She stooped and laid her hands upon 
the object, feeling rapidly along it each way from its 
middle. 

^ ^ Oh, it is the rugs ; he has brought them in from 
the garden. How they frightened me!^’ Gabrielle 
rose and leaned against the wall until she recovered 
strength. Then she laughed, for she held in her hand 
the Fan with the Thousand Eyes. 

“I — must have picked itupj’^ she clutched it 
tightly as if it were the hand of a friend, and 
gathered courage from it. 

“The door must be this way,^^ thought Gabrielle, 
setting her face towards a draught which blew 
steadily from within. She followed this as a hound 
follows the scent, and crossed the vacant ward-room 
until she came to the foot of the stair. Looking up 
cautiously she saw the light of a half-open door. 

She stopped and listened. Ko living thing was 
there, no sound. A ray of sunshine struggled 
through the shutter and wavered on the floor. 
Shadows crouched in the comers ; phantoms glided 
from the table to the walls. Except that these things 
had no heart to beat and no breath to come in gasps, 
they were not stiller than Gabrielle. 

Pausing and listening, feeling her way step by step, 
she went up the stair. More softly than the wind she 
260 


ACROSS THE THRESHOLD 


pushed the door a trifle wider ; in sympathy for a 
woman’s fear the door forgot to creak. 

The room was deserted. It was brighter and 
lighter than the one below. Books and glittering 
things lay upon the table. There were cushions, and 
a couch like that in the pavilion. A silken robe, 
which she recognized as Murad’s, lay across a chair. 
Gabrielle touched this as she passed, and her terror 
vanished. 

But he was not there. Where was he? Where 
was the brother — Selim ? N'othing was disturbed, yet 
they were not there. 

She hurried to a door on the far side of the room. 
The hall beyond was empty and silent. Directly 
across the hall was another door, half shut. She 
crept up to this door and listened. 

Gabrielle halted, frightened and uncertain, wonder- 
ing at herself for having ventured so far. Weakness 
overcame her j she would have been glad to escape 
but for those dark rooms and halls through which she 
must repass to reach the garden and the sunshine. 

Gabrielle heard the click of a glass — an accident, 
for Selim rarely made a noise. Then the homelike 
aroma of coffee came floating to her. Gabrielle 
smiled and tapped gently on the door. 

A shadow crossed the floor. The door opened and 
Selim bowed to the ground. “Welcome, my lord 

Grosjean ” Then he lifted his head and stared. 

They faced each other. 

“Murad,” she said, then realized her mistake, 
though Selim was very like his brother. “You must 
be Selim. I am GabrieUe. ” 

Selim’s face was utterly blank. He did not 
251 


GABRIELLE 


comprehend whence this stranger came, nor why. He 
had never heard of her or seen her. 

Murad raised himself in bed and without the sem- 
blance of surprise beckoned to Gabrielle. 

Selim stood aside, the Eastern composure returning 
to his face and mien. He bowed serenely, as if 
Gabrielle were a long-expected guest. The man’ s face 
yielded no more of his thought than the desert’s face 
betrays the secret of the ages. 

Bnt when Gabrielle had passed him Selim shot a 
glance at Murad, who leaned on his elbow and put 
aside his cup. There was a gladness on Murad’s face, 
and yet a reverence which puzzled Selim. For Selim 
was of the East, and the East accords no reverence to 
women. Selim’s eyes flashed back and forth from 
Gabrielle to Murad. He looked, he understood ; hate 
flamed up within him like a torch. The fanatic of 
Islam folded his arms across his breast. Hatred can 
be very patient in the East. 

^^Come, my Gabrielle,” called Murad. And she 
came. 

^‘You are ill,” she whispered, bending over himj 
'a knew it; I felt it.” 

Murad held out his hand ; it was hot with fever but 
his calm speech stilled the blue anxiety of her eyes. 

^^1^0, Gabrielle, I shall not die ; it is not the 
hour. There are thirty-six days yet ; after that. He 
knows.” Murad’s uplifted finger did not tremble. 

Destiny hath decreed it.” 

Selim stood at the foot of the bed like a thing of 
bronze, tongueless, sightless, deaf. He comprehended 
that Murad had confided to her a thing which would 
rend the Moslem world. Every dweller in a desert 
252 


ACROSS THE THRESHOLD 


tent, every Sherif in his palace, every blind mnezzin 
and all who turned their eyes to Mecca held their 
breath. Yet Murad had told a woman — a Paynim 
woman — a heretic — an unbeliever. Selim glided across 
the floor, a dull brown phantom intent upon his coffee. 
Murad nodded, and Selim placed a high-backed chair 
beside the bed for Gabrielle. 

I knew you were coming,^’ Murad whispered. 

^^So did she laughed excitedly; knew all 
the while I was coming, though I vowed I would not. 
But you are ill, and you need me? Do you not? 

Yes, I need you,^^ he replied. 

Murad glanced from Gabrielle to the globe which 
lay on the table, not clearer nor more transparent than 
the girl. It quivered and stirred, as Gabrielle’ s lips 
quivered and her breast fluttered. Murad could now 
account for the disturbance which he had noted on the 
previous afternoon. Selim had not understood why 
Murad pondered over that globe so constantly. 

Mother Louise would have come,” Gabrielle con- 
tinued, giving him the reasons she had given to her- 
self; ^^any of the sisters would have come. Of course 
I could not send for them, so I had to come myself.” 

Murad nodded his entire approval ; her doubts gave 
place to dimples and to smiles. She was here, and 
reasons mattered not. 

Selim’s fiery glance rested for a moment upon 
Gabrielle — a glance that would have scorched the girl 
had she but seen it. He came forward with a tray. 
Gabrielle sprang up. “Let me give it to him — please. 
I am a famous nurse.” 

She bade Murad sit up and rested the tray in his lap. 

“There! Do not move ; wait.” 

253 


GABRIELLE 

Selim anticipated her wish and provided the napkin 
which she tied round Murad^ s neck. ^ ^ Is it too tight ? 
Now! Here’s a bit of bread. What are these ? Dried 
plums ! ’ ’ 

^^No, they are dates.” 

^^How queer!” She looked at the strange fruit. 
Selim stooped to renew the perfumes in a censer. He 
looked up and glared at Gabrielle with such intensity 
that she turned as though he had called her by name. 

You did not tell him of me ? ” Gabrielle whispered, 
and pointed to Selim. Murad shook his head. 

He seemed startled when I came in. He does not 
like me.” 

Selim spread a gold-embroidered cloth before 
Gabrielle, on which he set a bowl of willow-flower 
water. From the closet he fetched another tray. 

“Some figs. Mademoiselle?” He spoke musically, 
but with an accent which amused her greatly. ^ ^ Dates 
from Smyrna, conserves of pomegranate seed, Meccan 
raisins, Sultani citrons ” 

Gabrielle laughed 5 she could not guess of what 
it was he spoke. At Murad’s suggestion she tried 
them all, one after one. 

She laughed again, gayly, buoyantly: “Do you 
know of what I was thinking — I’ m so foolish ? Some- 
times I bring sweetmeats into the garden for the 
rabbits and the birds. They nibble and taste of tiny 
bits before making sure they are pleased. I’m doing 
just as the rabbit does — only I do not throw my ears 
forward and seem ready to run away. Oh, dear, no 5 
I’m not going to run. It’s too pleasant visiting the 
sick.” 

Selim had whisked away Murad’s empty cup, 
254 


ACROSS THE THRESHOLD 


likewise the tray, and made his brother comfortable 
by propping the pillows behind him. 

Murad sat now and watched Gabrielle, breaking and 
tasting and trying to make up her mind about these 
unknown fruits. 

^^My ! but I was frightened when I opened that 
door downstairs. Old Margot says this house is 
haunted, and I listened for a noise. Silence is worse 
than noise — one imagines so many dreadful things. 
Listen ! ^ ^ 

Selim too had heard the step, a firm, heavy and 
determined step in the hall below — Grosjean. 

Gabrielle sprang up : ^^Oh, dear, let me hide, then 
jump out at father. He will be so surprised to see me 
here.^^ 

^^He would, indeed,’’ assented Murad. 

Selim, the bronze image, waited. Murad inclined 
his head towards the door and Selim darted out. 

They listened, these two, Gabrielle with a twitch of 
mischief at her lips, and Murad very anxiously. The 
tread below stopped abruptly, as Selim intercepted 
Grosjean in the hall. 

Go, Gabrielle, go quickly,” Murad whispered j 

go quickly and say nothing.” 

^^Why?” she asked, and turned her wondering 
eyes upon him. 

^^Go — wait in the hall — a moment — for me.” He 
spoke so earnestly that Gabrielle ran out into the hall. 

Oh yes,” she said; understand; father must 
not suspect that I know you are here. Of course 
not.” 

When Gabrielle had disappeared into the hall, 
Murad bounded out of bed, drew a dark robe about 
255 


GABRIELLE 


him, securing the cord around his waist, and followed 
her. 

Come,^^ he whispered j be still ; do not speak. 
He almost dragged her into that long room where 
stood the table and the couch. There he drew aside 
the curtains of the couch and pushed her into hiding. 

Wait here,’^ he admonished her, until your father 
has gone into my room. Then go quickly — Thorne. 

Yes, yes, I understand, she protested j ^^he must 
not suspect that I — isn^t it too comical ? 

“ Be still. Murad went to the door at the head of 
the stair and called, “ Why do you not come up ? 

The stair creaked beneath the weight of Grosjean ; 
Murad held out his hand. “My friend,’’ he said, “I 
greet you. Enter.” 

Grosjean regarded him with great surprise. “I 
thought you ill, and risked this visit in the daylight. 
You are ill. You should be in bed. These fevers are 
most deceptive.” 

Selim followed the other two through the room, 
carefully closing both doors behind him. He heard a 
smothered laugh from Gabrielle. 

Much may happen in half an hour, and a girl may 
find strange things to ponder on when, breathless and 
with fiushed cheeks, she has reached her own room 
again. 


256 


CHAPTER XXIV 

THE NORTHMAN’S BANNER 


Look, Murad Gabrielle exclaimed j see what 
I have brought.’^ 

Gabrielle opened Murad^s door, knowing well that 
Selim would have made everything ready to receive 
her. For sixteen days at this hour she had come, and 
never once had lost her faith. For sixteen days, even 
in those moments when Murad’s heart had almost 
ceased to beat, and his breath came like whispers of 
agony, she had kept her courage firm. “He will not 
die,” she sturdily maintained; “he told me he would 
not.” 

Selim fed his hope upon the strength of the woman 
that he hated ; daily he watched for her coming almost 
as impatiently as Murad. 

During the silent hours when Gabrielle sat stroking 
his hand, Murad rested peacefully as a child, and the 
surgeon’s sleeping potions were forgotten. No matter 
how delirious he had been, nor how unmanageable 
with Selim, Gabrielle’ s touch would instantly soothe 
and quiet him. Selim curbed his hate, and whilst 
Gabrielle ministered to Murad he stood sentinel at the 
window lest Margot should return, or Grosjean make 
an unexpected visit. Twice Gabrielle had been 
obliged to hide from her father, and this danger 
17 257 


GABRIELLE 


kept Murad exceeding anxious. So Selim stood his 
guard. 

‘^Look, Murad Gabrielle exclaimed. His eyes 
lighted ; his face had long been turned expectantly 
towards the door. 

Gabrielle had grown slenderer since the momentous 
noon when she first crossed the threshold, and pene- 
trated the mysteries of Dumb House. She had 
learned of other mysteries, and the lessons were writ- 
ten in every line of her face. Her cheeks were not so 
round ; her rich color had faded, but she carried her 
head with surer poise, and a deeper womanliness 
abided within her eyes. Her pale lips set themselves 
firmly, for they had kissed the brow of sorrow and 
feared it no longer. 

Her eyes were dancing now, a happy fiush flowed 
into her cheeks. She entered the sick room with the 
same resolute smile that had never faltered. See ! 
she exclaimed and held both hands high above her 
head, letting fall a banner which unrolled and 
dragged the floor. 

Murad glanced at it. The banner had once been 
white, now stained with age. It bore for device a 
black raven with open beak and wings outspread. 
Murad smiled and allowed his eyes to settle, once for 
all, on Gabrielle’ s face. 

Gabrielle flaunted her treasure, and spoke with 
brave enthusiasm. 

It is a famous banner, Jean says ; he took it from 
an old chest this morning and gave it me. He said I 
must carry it back to France. It is more than a 
thousand years old, and is a sure token of victory. 
That’s why I want you to have it. 

258 


THE NORTHMAN’S BANNER 


You will soon be strong enough to go to your own 
country and fight battles. Take this banner and then 
— then no one can harm you.’^ 

Gabrielle strove to speak lightly, to laugh and 
cheer up the sick man. But her own words led to the 
perilous edge. She stopped, and Murad began : 

“My Gabrielle, I ’’ 

“No, no ; you must not speak. I want to tell you 
what Jean says about the banner ; if you begin to talk 
ril forget it all.^^ 

Gabrielle drew up her chair and spread her banner 
across the bed. 

Selim withdrew to the front window. His eyes, 
busy with the river and the paths, guarded Gabrielle^ s 
peace of mind, and through her gave quietude to 
Murad. She bent over and touched Murad’s brow, to 
be sure the deadly fever had left him. 

“Now, I’m going to tell you about it;” Gabrielle 
was out of breath, she had run to him so fast, fearing 
she might forget her story. She took his hand and 
stroked it ; Murad listened more obediently if she but 
held his hand. 

“ Jean told me that a thousand years ago his ances- 
tors — I believe that is what he called them — anyway, 
they lived in a country to the far north, where it is 
very cold. They were fair-haired people with blue 
eyes, and very brave. Jean says that’s where I get 
my hair and eyes. A great many of their friends and 
kin-people had gone to live in England. A wicked 
king ordered them all to be killed — wasn’t that dread- 
ful ! Jean’s ancestors heard of it and swore to avenge 
them. There was a king of — king of — Jean’s ances- 
tors I suppose — anyway he Lived in the north, and 
259 


GABRIELLE 


had three sisters. These sisters were very beautiful, 
and they were witches. !N'o, no, do not shake your 
head — ^that’s exactly what Jean told me — witches. 

The king’s sisters wove his banner for him, with 
the black raven ; the king put it on his ship and sailed 
away to England. One of Jean’s ancestors carried 
the banner when they landed in England, and the 
magic of the witches was so powerful that whoever 
fought under it was sure to win. They had a terrible 
battle, and all the English were killed. 1^'one of the 
others were killed — or if they were killed some angels 
took them straight to heaven ” 

^^To Yalhalla,” Murad suggested. 

^^Yes, that’s the place Jean said they went to,” 
Gabrielle hurried on. ^ ^ After they had killed all the 
English one of them was made King of England, 
King ” 

^MtwasSweyn, King of Denmark, who conquered 
England,” said Murad quietly. 

^ ^ Oh, dear, you knew it already j I thought I had a 
new story.” 

“Ko, Gabrielle, I knew naught of the banner.” 

After they had conquered England the man who 
had the banner crossed the seas to France and built 
the castle where Jean lived when he was a little boy — 
imagine Jean being little.” 

Murad reached out his thin white fingers and felt 
the ancient cloth, strong and well-preserved through 
all the centuries. 

Wonderful, wonderful!” he said, ^^that this 
banner should have fioated above the conquering 
Norsemen.” 

That’s it, that’s just what Jean called them!” 

260 


THE NORTHMAN’S BANNER 


Gabrielle exclaimed j could not think of their 
name. No one ever did whip the Norsemen, did 
they 

^^They were a valiant people,’’ Murad answered, 
and spilled much brave blood in Palestine. Even 
unto this day Eastern women frighten their children 
with King Richard. ^ Why do you fear ? ’ say they 5 
^ that’s not King Richard.’ Se was a Norseman.” 

Oh, dear ! when I tell a story I always get it wrong 
and it sounds foolish. You make me feel so ignorant.” 

did not mean it, Gabrielle;” he caught her 
hand and held it to his lips. She did not resist, 
though Gabrielle was stronger now than he. Pres- 
ently she rose and stood beside his bed, her face 
turned towards the sunshine from the window. 

Then she smiled down upon him. The smile 
faded ; she was trying to compose her mind and tell 
him something else. 

Murad, you are growing strong. In twenty days 
you wiU have passed the Moon of Safar, and be in no 
danger. After that you return to your own land. 
You have told me that there will be battles and fight- 
ing. It is very childish of me, perhaps, but I thought 
I would give you this banner for — for — good fortune.” 

Gabrielle loosed her hand gently and walked off 
from the bed. When she came back again the tears 
were brushed away and her face was calm. 

Without a word she spread the protection of her 
banner over Murad, covering him full length. 


261 


CHAPTER XXV 

STEADY, GABRIELLE, STEADY 


Steady, Gabrielle, steady ! 

The laughing girl, blue-eyed and happy, and trim 
as a dove in her convent gown, went hurrying down 
the weed-grown walk to Dumb House. 

^‘Steady, Gabrielle, steady!” Gabrielle had no 
time to look about her or to choose her steps, for 
hands and eyes were centered on the steaming bowl 
she bore. 

^^TJgh ! the fire’s in the bowl,” she ejaculated, and 
set it down on the sun-dial whilst she blew into her 
hands. 

The bowl itself did not seem fitted for feasts of 
epicures or the companionship of gem-studded fila- 
grees. It was thick and yellow ; it was criss-crossed 
with many a crack ; it was mottled with scars and 
scorches, and not a comely bit of ware to look upon. 
But it was a sturdy old warrior, and had borne the 
brunt of many a kitchen battle. 

From the capacious heart of the bowl there rose 
an eddying fragrance so savory that one forgot the 
ill-favor of its countenance. 

When Gabrielle had cooled her hands she shifted 
her napkin and wrapped it round the bowl. Then she 
took up her odorous burden and trudged on again. 

‘^My I that smells good. It must get to him piping 
hot.” 


262 


STEADY, GABRIELLE, STEADY 


Her foot slipped and she stumbled: “Steady, 
Gabrielle, you were too long in the making of this 
broth to spill it now.’^ 

But there were many other ways to make a slip, 
and something within her constantly whispered, 
“Steady, Gabrielle, steady ! 

Straight before her was the door to Dumb House, 
no longer opening to nameless terrors. It beckoned 
her to enter a cool and hospitable dimness. This 
great hall had seemed to sympathize with the hopes 
and fears of Gabrielle ; it seemed to understand the 
precious anxieties and the blessed troubles of the girl 
who had passed through it so many times during 
Murad^s illness. 

With her knee she pushed open the door, and sped 
through the hall, not looking whither she went. 
Gabrielle had no need for eyes, her feet knew the way 
so very, very well. 

“Careful now,’^ she thought, and climbed the 
winding stair. Her knee had barely touched the 
upper door when Selim opened it. Gabrielle entered 
the room without glancing right or left. Murad 
in a loose blue robe was pacing the floor. He turned 
fretfully : 

“You are late, I have been waiting.^ ^ 

Gabrielle shook her head ; “I am early ; it is not 
yet noon. Sit down ; you must not weary yourself.’^ 

The reproach in Murad’s tone was sweet to 
Gabrielle ; even his petulance and impatience had 
grown most dear. He dropped into a chair with 
his eyes fixed upon the bowl ; he seemed pitifully 
weak. Selim came forward to take the bowl from 
Gabrielle. 

“Ho,” she ordered, “I shall carry it myself j I 
263 


GABRIELLE 


have firm hold. Fetch the table, spoons, cloth, 
everything.’^ 

Selim disappeared. Gabrielle rested the bowl on 
the edge of a chair until he returned. Murad leaned 
over and smelled of it. 

Hurry, Selim,” he said. 

Selim placed the small table in front of Murad, 
with its dazzling cloths and array of silver. Last he 
set out a priceless bowl of blue, inlaid with gold and 
studded with gems. 

Gabrielle filled the blue bowl from the yellow one. 
Murad reached out eagerly. She caught his wrist : 

^^Wait a minute; it is too hot. Selim, fetch the 
rice. Wait, Murad, wait, I tell you ; let me tie this 

napkin ” She stood behind Murad tying the 

napkin and smiling at his impatience. 

“Be careful ; it is dreadfully hot ; sip it slowly ; do 

not burn your tongue ” Murad obeyed; he had 

long since learned there was no appeal. 

He wore a robe of blue, edged with dull gold, over 
the whiteness of his shirt. There was a girdle about 
his waist the quaint workmanship of which caught her 
eyes — ^but only for a moment. 

She had watched Murad so anxiously that she saw 
more keenly than the surgeon how the tinge of health 
was coming back into his cheeks. Now she bent over 
him and laid her hand upon his brow. 

“I knew it,” she exclaimed triumphantly. “The 
fever is quite gone. That Surgeon Rosselin is a 
wonder ; he brought old Vincent back from the grave 
— and Sister Anastasia ” 

The invalid smiled up into her face ; they were 
quite used to being alone together. For many days 
he had been unable to speak or move, or even to lift 
264 


STEADY, GABRIELLE, STEADY 


his head when she came. But to Gabrielle^s great 
comfort he had always seemed to recognize her. His 
hand crept slowly forward, and one wasted finger 
toyed with the spoon. 

^^Let me feel your pulse, she said; ^Hhen you 
shall have your lunch. 

He stretched his arm, palm upward, on the table. 
Gabrielle put her finger on his pulse and tried to 
appear very wise, as Surgeon Rosselin looked when 
Sister Anastasia was so ill. 

“ Almost regular ; a trifle fast ; you are very well. 
Indeed I have never seen any one quite as well.’^ 
She patted his hand reassuringly, and Selim entered 
with the rice. Here^s your rice ; let me stir it in 
with the broth — good chicken broth — that is what the 
surgeon said you must have.’^ She put a small 
portion of rice into his bowl and glanced at Selim for 
confirmation. 

“ Good chicken broth, the surgeon said, did he not, 
Selim 

Yes, Mademoiselle, with rice.^’ 

“As much as I want,^^ supplemented Murad; “I 
heard him say that.’’ And he reached out with his 
spoon. 

“Ho, not as much as you want, only as much as 
you can eat ” 

“At intervals, not all at once,” added Selim, 
repeating the surgeon’s instructions with the fidelity 
of an echo. 

“Stop talking and let me eat; I’m starving,” 
Murad broke in. 

“Give it to him,” Gabrielle ordered, and Murad 
began the attack. 

Gabrielle rested her elbows on the table and, with 
265 


GABRIELLE 


chin in hand, enjoyed Murad^s broth as much as he. 
Selim went to watch at the window. Murad’s 
spoon flew diligently back and forth. 

^‘What!” Gabrielle exclaimed, ^^at the bottom 
already?” 

It is a very small bowl,” he said peevishly. 

You shall have another. Selim.” Gabrielle rose 
with a smile, and clapped her hands for Selim. 
Murad followed her with his eyes, as was habitual 
during the hours of his weakness. When Gabrielle 
turned and met his gaze she flushed — a flush of purest 
joy. Murad had become dependent on her, and she 
knew it. 

Suddenly she heard a noise outside the window, at 
the front — noises of men shouting along the river’s 
bank. The color died away and left her cheeks 
whiter than before. She listened. ‘^It must be a 
ship.” Gabrielle ran to the window and fell on her 
knees at the crevice through which she had so often 
peeped. By reason of many searchings every little 
inlet and jutting point along the river had become 
familiar, especially that distant curve around which 
the ships came from France. 

Sick with apprehension she scanned its bosom ; the 
river smiled back and reassured her. ^‘IJ'ot yet, 
not yet,” the river said. 

She rose and returned to Murad rather consciously, 
for she felt his eyes had followed her. 

^^Are you so very impatient?” he asked. 
cannot be long until he comes.” 

am anxious,” she admitted. The fretful queS' 
tioner held his peace. Gabrielle busied herself about 
the table. She did not look at Murad, for her lipa 
were trembling and she could not steady them. It 
266 


STEADY, GABRIELLE, STEADY 


was a great relief when Selim came in, bringing the 
yellow bowl. 

She poured another portion of the broth, stirred in 
the rice, and regained her self-possession. 

“The surgeon said he might go into the garden this 
noon, did he not?” she asked of Selim. Selim nodded. 

“Yes, he did ; yes, he Murad asserted ; “and 
I mean to go.” 

“ You may get him ready, Selim,” she said, for the 
bottom of the bowl was clean again. 

“I am quite ready ; I have been ready these two 
good hours. Do you not think I should be ready 
after lying here idle for three weeks? ” 

“Seventeen days,” Gabrielle corrected. 

Seventeen days had made a lifetime to Gabrielle, 
when every day she had dreaded the coming of her 
husband. But she did not yet realize what her 
husband’s coming meant. 

She looked around the room and saw her banner — 
the raven with the wide-spread wings — fixed to a 
staff. Murad had brought it with him from across 
the hall. 

“It is my talisman,” he said. 

Murad scraped the last morsel from his bowl, even 
to the flakes of rice clinging round the sides. Then 
he held fast to his spoon and looked at Gabrielle. 

“No more,” she shook her head ; “ not a drop.” 

“ Then come,” he said, wiping his lips ; “we shall 
go into the garden.” 

Selim washed Murad’s finger-tips with willow- 
flower water and dried them with a silken napkin 
from his girdle. Then he sprinkled him with a 
sweet-smelling essence from the casting-bottle. 

“Now, you are ready,” Selim said, assisting him 
267 


GABRIELLE 


to rise. But it was Gabrielle’s shoulder upon which 
Murad laid his hand. 

Gently and slowly they went down the stair. It 
was a narrow stair and three abreast crowded it over- 
much. At the foot Murad loosed his hold of Selim, 
but clung to Gabrielle, and Gabrielle drank the joy 
of supporting him in his v^eakness. Selim followed 
and turned with them into the lower hall. 

Gabrielle stopped beside the roll of rugs which lay 
against the wall near the door. She bent over and 
picked up the Fan of the Thousand Eyes. ‘‘To 
shield you from the sun,^’ she whispered. 

Before them the wide-open door framed a square 
green vista of the garden, glittering in the sunlight, 
with dashes of color and stretches of brown solitude 
beneath the pines. Murad gazed upon it with hungry 
eyes. “It is Irem,^^ he murmured j “ it is the garden 
of Shedad.^’ Selim understood the reference to that 
ancient legend, and Selim was wroth. 

This garden was fairer to Murad than those fabled 
gardens in which a presumptuous monarch had imi- 
tated Paradise. Murad wondered if God would strike 
him dead — as He had stricken Shedad — for daring to 
enter them. 

Murad turned and looked at Selim. In the silence 
Selim heard again what Murad had said to him many 
weeks ago : “ The garden is mine.’^ 

Selim glanced at Gabrielle with a mingling of sub- 
mission, hatred and gratitude. Then the slave closed 
his eyes lest he should desecrate a holy place which 
was set apart for Murad. He groped his way to the 
inner door and vanished. 

“ Come,’’ Murad whispered eagerly ; “come.” 

With one hand resting on Gabrielle’ s shoulder, the 
268 


STEADY, GABRIELLE, STEADY 


other outstretching towards the garden, he passed 
through the door into the dazzling sunlight. She held 
the fan above his head, sheltering him from heat and 
glare, and led him slowly to their bench beneath the 
pine. Sit here,’^ she said. 

She settled him in a corner of the bench, stuffing 
cushions at his sides and back : “Rest your feet on 
this ; now lean back.^’ 

Murad closed his eyes. Gabrielle fetched a hassock 
from the pavilion, sat at his feet and leaned her elbow 
on the bench. ^^You must be very still, Gabrielle 
cautioned, ^^orl shall take you back to the house. 
Do not talk ; it wearies you.’^ 

Murad sucked in the delicious air as though it were 
a draught from the wine- cup of the day. Resting 
easily, he upturned his face to the infinite blue of the 
sky. Ah ! the wonder of that sky — the depth and 
the breadth and the serene majesty of it! Almost 
green it seemed — green as the marvellous crysolite 
which decks the Garden of the Abode, and wider than 
the charity of Allah. One solitary cloud hung sus- 
pended there, silvery white, as were the clouds above 
the Garden of Delight, in the Fourth Mansion of 
Paradise. 

With half-closed eyes Murad watched a wheeling 
bird that circled round and round, rising and falling, 
breasting the breeze, then turning wing and wing 
before it. There were other birds, fainter and farther 
off, like sails of distant ships against an azure sea. 
These listless ships of heaven bore no cargo and 
sought no port j they mounted and fell, sailing hither 
and yon without effort or design. Like the birds, 
Murad abandoned himself to the caprice of whatsoever 
winds might blow. 


269 


GABRIELLE 


For the first time Gabrielle saw him in the light of 
day. His cheeks were sunken, his lips exceeding 
pale ; two slender hands lay unmoving in his lap. She 
leaned forward and covered them with both of hers. 
He opened his lips to speak. 

charged you not to talk,^^ she said gently. 

Why should you chatter ! Is the garden not 
enough?” 

Then you must talk to me,” he whispered. 

“ But I can tell you no stories ; I do not know any.” 

^^Talk to me about yourself — about the convent. I 
shall be very still and listen.” 

“I could talk of nothing else,” Gabrielle laughed ; 
^^there^s naught else I know except the sisters, this 
garden, and my father. I thought that was all — until 
you came.” 


270 


CHAPTER XXVI 

UNTIL YOU CAME 


Peace be upon you/’ the winds had whispered to 
the garden. Light and mellow warmth/’ the sun 
flung down. Beauty to gladden the eye,” boasted a 
bold, red rose. ^‘And sweetest perfume,” the jasmine’s 
breath outpoured. A mocking-bird swung forward 
and back upon a vine ; and the mocker outdid them 
all, for he sang a love song to his mate. Forgetful of 
the wind and heedless of the sun, the feathered trou- 
badour poured out his serenade. Without eyes for 
the bold, red rose, nor care for jasmine sighs, he 
thought only of his mate, and sang to her alone. 
Murad opened his eyes, looked upon the bird, and 
smiled. “Drunken without wine,” he murmured, 
“ for very stress of joy and love.” 

“Yes,” Gabrielle answered in a whisper j “some 
times I fear he’ll burst his little throat.” 

“Or burst his little heart if he let it come not 
forth.” 

“’Sh! His music Alls the garden. I come many 
times to listen.” 

“It is the music which Alls the world. And you 
learn nothing from the bird?” 

“Yes, indeed, one may learn greatly from a bird. 
But you could tell me so much more if you would — of 

the stars — the burning glass There ! There ! 

Lean back again. Remember you are not to talk.” 

271 


GABRIELLE 


Murad dropped back on his pillows, for he was 
very weak. Gabrielle sat upon the hassock at his 
feet, leaning against the bench. She stroked Murad’s 
hands to keep him soothed. 

^^When you are well you shall talk to me again. 
You have taught me very much. Until you came I 
thought of nothing beyond these woods and that river. 
You seemed to tear them all away and pointed out to 
me what lay on the other side.” Gabrielle seemed 
frightened, as though she had been cast adrift in the 
empty spaces of the universe. Murad sat up straight. 

no,” she ordered hurriedly; “lean back 
again.” 

“ Then tell me of yourself, and the convent ; begin 
at the beginning.” 

Gabrielle laughed ; “There never was a beginning 
— more than there was a beginning to sunrises, and 
going to bed at night.” 

“What is the first thing you remember*?” Murad 
asked. It mattered little to him of what she talked. 

“The first thing? I cannot remember, it has been 
so long ago.” Gabrielle wrinkled her brow and tried 
to think. 

“Oh yes, I remember when they opened the parlor 
grating and passed me through. You can imagine 
how tiny I was. I kicked and screamed most violently 
and got red in the face. Everybody laughed, even 
Mother Louise, which made me hate them all. My 
life was not worth a pin. I was the most unhappy 
person in the world.” 

“Next, I remember the night when Sister Therese 
came with some medicine. It choked me because I 
had just finished eating a pasty which an older pupil 
had hid in my bed. The older girl was displeased 
272 


UNTIL YOU CAME 


with me for eating her pasty. That was an exciting 
night.” 

Murad behaved according to promise and listened 
quite contentedly. One of the hands which had 
rested in his lap slipped out and fell on the bench. 
Gabrielle, like a mother whose child stirred in its 
sleep, took up the hand. 

“It was very comical,” she went on; “one day I 
hurried over here to see how you fared. I did not 
suspect that stupid old Eosselin would remain. Selim 
gave me no warning that he meant to stay the night, 
and the day as well. You were very ill. I ran like 
everything through the hall and up the stairs. At 
your door I heard a voice, loud and angry. It was 
your voice ; you were greatly excited. You were 
shouting as I imagine a commander would shout in 
battle. The fever-madness had come, as it came to 
old Vincent. I opened the door and peeped in ; you 
were sitting up in bed waving your arms. Selim 
tried to hold you. The Surgeon Eosselin came 
towards me as fast as he could, and I was so paralyzed 
with terror I could not move. I should have liked to 
crawl into a mouse-hole, but could only flatten myself 
against the wall. He hurried by and did not see me. 

“When he came back I crouched in the shadow 
and he passed again. You were still shouting; it 
sounded dreadful in that old house where there had 
been nothing but whispers. I lay still and listened : 
you grew quiet. 

“Presently I heard Eosselin and Selim talking. 
^Bah! it is nothing,^ said the surgeon; ^he is young 
and strong, and he has not the habit of drink which 
makes men die.^ 

“This comforted me, to hear the surgeon rating 
18 273 


GABRIELLE 


Selim so roundly for his fears. Rosselin swore wick- 
edly, and stamped around with his big feet. It is 
very reassuring when Rosselin does that. He came 
towards the door again, and I ran away. 

^^The next day Rosselin almost spied me in the 
garden ; but I heard him first. He was striding up 
and down, slashing about him with his cane. My ! 
how angrily he cut the heads off the hollyhocks. He 
swore beautifully, because he could not leave Dumb 
House in the daytime. For the two days that I 
had no chance to see you I comforted myself with 
Rosselin’ s oaths. 

‘‘The next day you were better, but weak and pale. 
Four days you did not know me ; you were always 
sleeping ” 

Gabrielle’s voice fell lower and lower, then died 
away. The skies were blue and vague; a sweet 
languor uprose from the earth. Silence came, perfect 
silence — and peace, perfect peace. 

“Tell me of the convent,” Murad begged when he 
missed the music of her voice. 

“The convent? There’s nothing to tell about a 
convent. Things do not happen in a convent. Let me 
see : It is now the half hour past noon. If I should go 
into the class-room I should discover Sister Conflans 
teaching geography and history. There would be 
seven small girls standing in a row, unless Bathilde 
had a headache or Colette the influenza — then there 
would be five. Sister had either brought her spec- 
tacles that day, or she had not. That is what marked 
the day — those spectacles. It is very stupid. 

‘ ‘ Oh yes, something did happen once. Madame de 
la Roque came in a ship from Havana, I remember 
her distinctly. Tall, well-made, with a proud, grave 
274 


UNTIL YOU CAME 


look, she must have been a great lady. She came at 
recreation time and we peeped through a wicket. 
She brought her daughter to Mother Louise, a slender 
dark girl, who kept her eyes on the ground. 

^‘Madame told Mother Louise that reports of her 
piety and learning had gone abroad, therefore she 
desired to propose her daughter as a novice. Mother 
Louise is easily flattered. 

^ And does your daughter earnestly wish to lead a 
religious life? ’ ‘ I assure you she does.^ The young 

lady said nothing ; she seemed most timid and nodded 
her head. Madame offered a large sum in the way of 
pension and dowry, and her daughter was accepted. 
Proving amiable she became a favorite at once. Yet 
she always kept apart from the other pupils. 

^^One morning I heard two sisters gossiping in the 
linen department. ^ There^s a fine story somewhere, 
you may rest assured,^ one of them said. ^ Yes, yes,’ 
assented the other, who was a great busy-body, but 
very kind at heart. 

This caused me to watch Mademoiselle de la Eoque 
more curiously. She had manners which the girls 
aped, as we thought her of a great family. One noon 
whilst I was aiding Sister Eloi and Madame Caumont 
in the record ofl3.ce. Mademoiselle de la Eoque entered 
without a word, as was her habit. She stood before 
the fire with her hands spread out behind her. Several 
pupils were reading and kept glancing at her over their 
books. 

It was comical to see those two old nuns, with their 
spectacles on, buried to their noses in the archive 
books. They quarrelled the livelong day, and I was 
near stifled with laughter. Madame Caumont sniffed 
and nudged Sister Eloi. ^ The grenadier is warming 
275 


GABRIELLE 


hei*self Sister Eloi nodded — they were good friends 
again, having some one else to pick to pieces. ^ Yes, 
it is sad for a young gentlewoman to have the manners 
of a guardsman.’ 

Presently Madame Caumont laid aside her specta- 
cles and came hobbling around the end of her table, 
looking very droll. ‘How is it,’ she said to Mademoi- 
selle de la Roque, ‘ that you spread your feet apart in 
such an odd fashion? ’ All the girls laughed, and Mad- 
emoiselle de la Roque became very red. She stam- 
mered in great confusion : ^ I was reared with my 
brother, and must have, unfortunately, copied his man- 
ners.’ She sat down hurriedly and attempted to draw 
her chair to the fire. In so doing she caught hold of 
it between her knees. Whereat the girls burst into 
new peals. Mademoiselle de la Roque sprang up and 
ran from the room. ^ A trooper in petticoats,’ snorted 
Madame Caumont. could never abide the Span- 
iards.’ Madame Caumont had lived in Paris, and we 
set great store by her opinions. So we ceased to copy 
the manners of Mademoiselle de la Roque. She was 
left quite lonely, though she never spoke an ill word 
to any one. I became sorry and went secretly to talk 
with her ; for which she seemed grateful. 

^‘Then a most unusual thing happened. One night 
there was a thunder-storm, such as you witnessed in 
this garden. Little Ronci — a very small girl — became 
frightened. She ran out of her cell to Mademoiselle 
de la Roque’s. One of the sisters heard her call out, 

^ Mademoiselle, I am dreadfully alarmed ; you must let 
me bide in your cell until the storm is gone.’ Mad- 
emoiselle de la Roque dressed completely before com- 
ing to the door : ^The holy rules forbid it,’ she said 
and pushed little Ronci away from her door. We 
276 


UNTIL YOU CAME 


were quite indignant at this hard-heartedness. Even 
the strictest nuns admitted that Mademoiselle de la 
Roque might have admitted little Ronci for that once 
without harm. We showed our displeasure against 
her in every way we could. 

Altogether, she remained in the convent three 
months, doing her novitiate. Then Madame de la 
Roque came again and informed Mother Louise that 
her daughter believed herself unfitted for a religious 
life, and took her away. 

Now the singular part of it was this : The vessel 
had no sooner sailed than old Vincent brought Mother 
Louise a note from Madame de la Roque imploring 
pardon for a deception. Her daughter was not a 
daughter, but a son. He had had the misfortune to 
kill his adversary in a duel, and his mother took this 
means of hiding him until the king^s wrath blew over. 
You can imagine what a pretty tumult this affair made 
in the convent until it was hushed. Mother Louise 
told us to hold our tongues ; of course we talked about 
it under the sheets. That is the only thing that ever 
did happen in a convent, I suppose. 

Gabrielle finished with a sigh. She was at the end 
of her stories. 

There was a long silence. Twice or thrice Murad 
seemed on the point of asking another question. 
Finally, he did inquire, But your marriage 

“ Oh yes, I forgot ; that was another thing that hap- 
pened. But I was so small it made no impression on 
me.’’ 

''Tell me of it?” 

"It was nothing,” Gabrielle replied; "let us not 
talk about that.” 


277 


THE INCIDENT OF MADAME DE LUC 


gentlemen of the French Nation — so the letter said — 
eager to win renown beneath the glorious smile of 
such a warlike prince. 

Tuerto besought Murad to wait their arrival, and 
pleasure them with the light of his face, which was 
like unto a rising full moon. 

All went well in Stamboul. People sickened of 
False Mahomet j there was mutiny amongst his 
sailors and rebellion in his troops. The tread of 
Murad would shake him like a rotten apple from 
his stem. 

This letter fired Murad with a warrior’s enthusiasm, 
and lighted the lust of battle in his eye. Already he 
heard the clash of steel ; already he heard the clatter 
of a myriad hoofs ; already he heard the acclaim of a 
liberated nation. Already he rode at the head of a 
turbaned host through the streets of his ancient capi- 
tal. Already — but Murad went into the garden and 
forgot. There was a lover’s soul in the garden, 
paramount to that of a crowned sultan in Stamboul. 

Yirile and sturdy as Murad stood, breathing of war 
and spurning the ground like a conqueror, he thought 
only of Gabrielle. He had reached the end of his 
self-appointed beat and was on the turn when 
Gabrielle pushed her frightened face through the 
vines. Seeing Murad, she came immediately into 
the path. 

Excitement burned her cheeks, though her lips 
were very pale. Her fingers twitched, and her eyes 
dilated with terror. Murad saw that somewhat of 
distress had befallen her. 

Peace, my Gabrielle!” he said, and she felt 
ashamed. Her tense figure relaxed ; her eyes filled, 
and she caught his hand. “I have witnessed a 
279 


CHAPTER XXVII 

THE INCIDENT OF MADAME DE LUC 


Murad strode down the garden path, listening for 
a rustle in the grapevine which would herald the 
approach of Gabrielle. He marched back and forth 
with the tread of a sentry pacing his beat, turning 
sharply at the end. 

Five days of rest — and of Gabrielle at the noontide 
hour — had brought back generously his strength. 
The friendly sun of Louisiana, like unto that which 
blazed across the rocks of Arabia Petrea, browned his 
cheeks again with well-accustomed tan. Then, too, 
there had come a letter which tautened the muscles of 
his arm, and sent his hand a- wandering to the hilt of 
his scimitar. 

About the middle hour of the previous night Selim 
had heard the shuffle of a foot at Dumb House door. 
He was far too cautious to open it, but stole down and 
listened. Something scraped beneath the door — a 
letter. 

^^Oh! Son of the Star,^^ the letter began, telling 
Murad that Tuerto, the meanest and least worthy of 
his slaves, was even then at Santo Domingo with a 
warship stronger than any in the sultan’s navy. To 
her crew were added a hundred desperate freebooters. 
The letter gave Murad many valiant names aboard 
the ship, men who prayed that they might die in the 
joy of his countenance. Also there were adventurous 
278 


GABRIELLE 


fearful thing, she choked out. ^^Come, let me tell 
you of it.^^ 

She hurried him to their bench beneath the pine, 
where a girl could be very safe, where she could 
unbosom all her troubles to the garden and to him. 

^‘This morning we went to mass, Margot and 
she began before they had settled themselves upon 
the bench. was all ready to come home but 
remained talking with Mother Louise. We were 
standing near the gate when some one knocked loudly 
on the wicket. Sister Conflans opened the wicket 
and shut it immediately. ^It is Madame de Luc,^ she 
said. ^ Open,^ ordered the mother. 

^^The gate scarcely swung ajar when a lady was 
shoved into the yard so violently as to throw her 
upon her knees. She was a tall, beautiful lady, and 
wept most piteously. The man behind pushed her 
ahead of him — a man with a drawn sword in his hand. 
It startled me greatly. He was exceeding wrathful ; 
the veins swelled in his throat until they seemed like 
to burst. 

Murad listened without interruption, and Gabrielle 
rushed on breathlessly: ‘^‘Madame de Luc!’ 
exclaimed Mother Louise, greatly surprised at the 
plight in which the lady appeared. ^Yes, Madame 
de Luc ! ’ shouted the man, planting his foot within 
the gate so that it might not be closed. The two 
sisters covered their faces and I was so astonished I 
could not move. I stared at him — he was in a tower- 
ing rage. Ah 1 and such looks of hatred as he hurled 
at the poor lady. 

Madame de Luc! My wife!’ he exclaimed; 
‘wife of the Chevalier de Luc, whom she has dis- 
graced.’ At this the lady crawled upon the ground 
280 


THE INCIDENT OF MADAME DE LUC 


to Mother Louise, embracing her knees ; but she did 
not dare look up, or show her face, or answer her 
husband^ who spoke violently : ^ There she is, Holy 

Mother; will you receive her, or will I send her 
forthright to hellU Mother Louise confronted him 
with such pious disapproval that he dropped his 
sword at once. 

^I crave your pardon, Holy Mother,’ he said, ^if 
my speech be blunt. Yimont lies dead in the 
thicket, and the blood of De Luc runs hot.’ He drew 
his blade across his sleeve, leaving a red smear. 

The lady sobbed distressfully. Mother Louise laid 
a hand upon her head. She is very brave. Then she 
spoke most quietly to the man, who was beside him- 
self : ^ The mercy of the Church is measureless : it 
denies itself to none.’ 

“Mother Louise stroked the lady’s glistening hair, 
then she spoke again — the far-away voice of a saint 
such as one hears in holy dreams : ^ Chevalier de Luc, 
go and make thy peace with God. Thou can’st not 
cleanse thy soul as easily as thy blade.’ 

^ ^ De Luc stepped backward, abashed and hesitating ; 
the gate shut upon his wild face and left us gathered 
round the lady. I started forward, thinking I might 
do somewhat for her comfort, but Mother Louise 
waved me off and led her away. 

“When Mother Louise had gone a few steps 
towards the dormitory, she turned and said, 
^Gabrielle, two of the sisters will take you home. 
Bide a bit ; there may be men abroad, and turbu- 
lence.’ 

“Everything happened so quickly that I was dazed 
and could not comprehend. I dropped upon a seat 
at the gate, looking from one sister to the other. 

281 


THE INCIDENT OF MADAME DE LUC 


him then. ^ Did you look on at such a scene ? ^ ^ Yes, 
and why not ? De Luc behaved most strangely, as if 
he were a madman.’ Jean laid both hands upon my 
shoulders and studied me as if I were at fault in some 
manner. Then he seemed puzzled and asked, ^ De Luc 
did not kill her ? ’ 

^No, ’ I answered, ^he did not kill her; she is 
with Mother Louise.’ 

^ Are you sure ? ’ ^ Yes, ’ I said again. That was 

a very strange question for Jean to ask, was it not?” 

Murad did not reply. Gabrielle repeated her ques- 
tion; she thought he had not heard. Again Murad did 
not answer. 

‘^I dared not ask my father anything else ; he was 
angered at me. He led me down the side of the levee 
and by the path which runs to our house. AJl the 
men looked at us, but not directly. Jean passed them, 
gazing straight ahead, turning neither right nor left. 
You know how the air stifles one sometimes, before a 
storm? Well, it was like that. I hurried on with 
my head down and tried not to see them. 

When we reached our door Jean unlocked it and 
pushed me inside. ^Go to your room,’ he said. I 
ran up the stair. When Jean commands one must 
obey. 

“At the landing I chanced to turn my head 
towards the back door, and saw De Luc standing 
there. He startled me dreadfully. He must have 
seen me as I came in the door, though he gave no 
sign. He stood quite still, his arms hanging down, 
staring at the ground. I looked at him and shivered ; 
he was a murderer. I wondered how he felt. 

“I ran to my room and from a window heard 
Jean’s voice below. He spoke harshly. The men 
283 


GABRIELLE 


They would tell me nothing, even when my breath 
returned. They only shook their heads.” 

When Murad looked up he found Gabrielle searching 
his face for some expression which might enlighten 
her. A glance assured him that she did not under- 
stand, she did not even suspect. Excitement suffused 
her cheeks with extraordinary richness, and girl- 
hood’s intuition added no tint of shame. The tragedy 
she had witnessed conveyed no hint of evil. Murad 
dropped his eyes and studied the ground, whilst 
Gabrielle hurried on to the end of her story. 

When all had grown quiet Sister Eloi bade Sister 
Conflans open the gate that we might depart. The 
two sisters kept me between them and proceeded 
along the levee, thinking to go home. We saw a 
group of men some distance ahead. They were look- 
ing towards my father’s house and talking earnestly. 
They stood directly in our path but gave no heed as 
we approached. ‘Let us return,’ suggested Sister 
Therese. ‘Let us go on,’ I urged, for I had much 
curiosity. Whilst we debated my father came. He 
moved through the crowd as though he were this 
pine tree striding about the garden, and he said no 
word to any man. I hope you may never see my 
father angered ; he speaks in a gentle tone, but his 
eyes flash and glitter. 

“ I ran to meet him, bidding good-bye to the sisters, 
who returned immediately to the convent. ‘ Oh, Jean, 
tell me of it — this dreadful thing that has happened ! ’ 
I was much excited and he caught my arm. ‘ Hush ! ’ 
he said, ‘ not so loud. How knew you of this ? ’ Then 
we stopped upon the levee whilst I related to him 
what I had seen. 

“ ‘ Hush ! ’ he warned me again, and I was afraid of 
282 


GABRIELLE 


had gathered at the doorstep. My father must have 
been standing on the stone, though I could not see 
him. ^ Gentlemen,^ he said, Hhe lady has not been 
killed ; that is a false report. She is now in the 
convent unhurt. Yimont is dead, beyond help or 
harm. De Luc is beneath my roof. There the 
matter shall rest until all the truth be known. Go 
your ways in peace. ^ He closed the door and slid the 
bar into its socket. The men outside were dissatis- 
fied, particularly two of them who kept touching 
their swords. My father strode through the hall ; I 
crept half way down the stair to listen. Jean spoke 
a few words to De Luc, who said nothing whatever, 
only nodded his head. He was very white and silent. 
He must have been remorseful. Jean said only a 
word or two. The other took his hand. ‘ I thank you, 
Grosjean ! ^ That was all. I learned nothing. 

“My father turned and I ran, else he might have 
caught me eavesdropping. He came up the stair and 
questioned me about every little thing I had seen at 
the convent. ^ It is a terrible afiair,^ he muttered. 

“‘What is so terrible? What is it? Tell me, 
Jean ! ^ I entreated him. He looked at me until I 
wondered why he should stare so long. Then he 
shook his head and walked to the window. I 
followed him and put my arm around his neck. Jean 
behaved most oddly. 

“‘Yes,’ he said, wheeling around; ^you are a 
grown woman. I will tell you. The Chevalier de 
Luc returned this morning from his mission to the 
Natchez. Sis wife did not expect him.^ There Jean 
stopped. I must have seemed stupid; he waited 
some moments, then went on again : ‘ De Luc left his 
pirogue at the river bank and hurried home along a 
284 


THE INCIDENT OF MADAME DE LUC 


path through the thicket used only by his wife and 
himself. At a certain point on this path there is an 
oak in the midst of a canebrake — a secluded spot 
where De Luc had built a rustic seat. Just before he 
reached this place he observed something white — a 
woman’s dress. His heart bounded to think of his 
wife seeking their old trysting-place whilst he was 
far away. His moccasins made no sound. He crept 
forward thinking to surprise her. He did surprise 
her. Yimont was sitting beside his wife. Yimont 
was killed. A slave ran to Madame’ s brother with 
tidings that De Luc had slain his wife. That is what 
made the commotion.’ 

“ When Jean told me this much he stopped again 
without ever telling me why the men fought, or why 
De Luc mistreated his wife so shamefully. ^ Was that 
all? ’ I asked Jean, and caught his sleeve to keep him 
from going down the stair. Jean seemed provoked 
when I pestered him with questions. ‘But,’ I per- 
sisted, ‘Jean, you would not kill a fellow-creature 
for so slight a cause ; you ’ 

“ Then my father did a singular thing. He is very 
strong. His sudden grasp crushed me to him until I 
was like to have cried out. He smothered me against 
his breast, and I could feel his heart beating. ‘ My 
poor, poor Gabrielle,’ he whispered. Then he held 
me away from him with his huge hands, and gazed so 
sternly into my eyes that it stopped my breathing. 
‘Kill him?’ he answered in the gentlest voice — the 
gentleness that frightens one, it is so deep and fierce 
— ‘Kill? Yes, if I must needs journey to France, 
and though it were the king — I should kill.’ ” 

Gabrielle rose and stood directly in front of Murad. 
With clenched hands and heaving bosom she repeated 
285 


GABRIELLE 


the words of Grosjean which had impressed her so 
profoundly. Murad lifted his head. The figure of 
the girl held him fascinated. She leaned forward, 
trying to make him understand what her father had 
said, in order that he might explain it. “What 
could Jean have meant by that?’^ she asked. With 
parted lips, through which she drew a long full 
breath, Gabrielle waited, and waited in vain, for a 
reply. 

Murad bent down, picked up a twig, and began 
drawing lines in the sand. 

“What could Jean have meant? she repeated. 

“ I do not know,^^ he answered her. 


286 


CHAPTER XXVIII 

THE STAIN 


Gabrielle looked straight at the man upon the 
bench — the silent man who held a twig in his hand 
and kept drawing zigzag lines across the sand. He 
seemed to be thinking of something else — he had forgot 
her. She could not see his face ; she could only see 
the top of his blue turban and the stiff white heron^s 
feather. The star swung loose from Murad^s breast, 
back and forth like a pendulum. All the while his 
fingers kept drawing those meaningless lines upon the 
sand. 

Gabrielle shrank back and glanced about the garden 
from which she had always gained sympathy and com- 
fort. It lay dead and dumb, shining in the sun, with- 
out a soul, without a rustle or a heart-beat. Her old 
friends turned away from her. Never had the garden 
seemed so lonely and insensate. In desperation she 
appealed again to Murad. 

“But I did not tell you all. Jean frightened me. 
He had such a look in his eyes and his arms trembled 
so that I asked him no more questions. Indeed I had 
no time, for there came a knock upon the door. We 
ran to the window ; there were soldiers below with a 
number of people at their heels. 

Murad broke his twig and ceased drawing those zig- 
zag characters in the sand. Although he did not lift 
his eyes Gabrielle felt he was listening intently. 

287 


GABRIELLE 


Jean called down to the officer and asked : ^ What 
is wanted, Laporte ? ’ The officer desisted from knock- 
ing and removed his cap : ^ The governor has ordered 
me to arrest the Chevalier de Luc. Is he in your 
house? ^ ^ He is here,^ Jean replied ; ‘ will you vouch 

me for his safety ? ’ ^ I will ; he shall be conducted to 

the governor.^ 

Jean buckled on his pistols, descended the stair 
and talked with M. de Luc. They went to the front 
door together, and Jean lifted the bar. ^ Fasten the 
door,^ he called up the stair to me ; shall probably 
be gone until the night.’ 

I saw them step from the threshold into the path. 
De Luc strode forth pale and defiant. He did not 
seem penitent in the least. He handed his sword to 
Laporte : ‘ I am your prisoner, sir.’ They walked off, 
Jean beside De Luc, and the soldiers closed around 
them. 

‘ ‘ It was a sore puzzle to me, but I knew you could 
explain it. I have now repeated everything word for 
word. It is strange how well one can remember some 
things.” 

Gabrielle hushed and sat down upon the bench. 
Murad must take time to think it out j she knew that. 
Then he would tell her. She could wait. Murad kept 
his eyes upon the ground, and his thoughts where 
Gabrielle could not guess them. 

For the second time that morning Gabrielle watched 
a man’s brow grow sombre as she related this incom- 
prehensible tragedy. Two men had listened to her, 
and both had turned their faces away. Were they dis- 
pleased with her? Had she done wrong ? 

She had not been greatly surprised at her father, for 
Jean could be grum and reticent at times. She had 
288 


THE STAIN 


no intimacy with him j they never talked of trifles. 
Jean could not laugh and jest, and be amused by little 
things as Murad could. But she thought it queer that 
Murad should close his lips, set his eyes upon the 
ground and give her not a word. 

Gabrielle slipped back into her corner of the bench. 
There was no sound in the garden save the murmur 
of the cottonwood’s topmost leaves. A hush came, 
and stillness settled down upon that walled-in world. 

Presently Gabrielle went over to the fountain, sat 
upon the coping and began to dabble her hands in the 
water . She felt herself harshly treated. Murad moved 
his foot ; then he lifted his eyes and began to watch 
her. She looked at him no more. The excitement had 
faded from her cheeks and he saw that her lips were 
quivering. Murad’s garments scarcely swished as he 
passed swiftly to her side. 

Gabrielle ! Look at me, Gabrielle ! ” He touched 
the tangles of her hair. He meant to say something, 
he had it in his mind. Gabrielle, ” he began. 

She looked up, disconcerting him with the clearest 
eyes in all the world. The fountain below her reflected 
the azure of the sky, reflected the shadow of passing 
clouds, but there was no shadow in the eyes of Gabri- 
elle. There was no mist which a breath from Murad 
might not blow away. Murad gazed into her soul, 
as clear and vast as the sky. He dropped his hand 
helplessly. 

Then the shadow did come. He was playing with 
her, she thought j he was treating her as a child, tak- 
ing advantage of her ignorance. Gabrielle was daugh- 
ter to Grosjean, the Hot-headed. She sprang up and 
confronted him. “ What is it you are concealing from 
me ? Have I done evil ? You must tell me ; you sJuill ! ” 
19 289 


GABRIELLE 


Murad turned upon her with a smile infinitely ten- 
der. “No, my Gabrielle,^^ he said j and her wrath was 
gone. “No, Gabrielle, it is because you have never 
done amiss, or dreamed of evil, neither your father 
nor I can speak to you of evil things.’^ 

“Of evil things?^’ she repeated, her lips opening 
slowly as the pink petals of a rose unfold. “ But Jean 
said the Chevalier de Luc did right — it was not evil at 
all. That is what I could not understand. 

“Madame de Luc was a married woman,” Murad 
said, forcing the words and looking down into the 
fountain. 

“Of course — she was Madame de Luc. I told you 
that.” 

In his own country Murad was reputed to be devoid 
of fear, and thousands of turbaned warriors bowed 
their heads at mention of his name. 

“Gabrielle,” he asked, taking both her hands into 
his own, “do you not understand ? ” She shook her 
head and tried to smile, but the smile would not 
come: “No ; I am very stupid.” 

“ Gabrielle,” he said, “there are bad women in the 
world — women who deceive their husbands. And 
husbands — heedless of their own faults — are most 
careful of a wife.” He spoke slowly, word by word, 
watching her face. Still there came no dawning of 
the truth to Gabrielle. 

“Have you not been taught,” Murad asked gently, 
“ of her to whom your prophet Christ said, ‘ Go, and 
sin no more ^ % ” 

Gabrielle’ s face brightened : “Oh yes, she was the 
woman that the people were going to stone. I remem- 
ber that story very well. But I never thought to ask 
what it was about. Mother Louise always said I 
290 


THE STAIN 


never paid half attention to anything.^’ Gabrielle 
laughed at her own ignorance. You must tell me of 
it?’^ She sat again upon the coping, clasped her 
hands about her knees, and put his wits to flight by 
that same steady gaze. 

Murad nerved himself anew: mean the sinful 

woman who was false to her marriage vows.^^ 

Gabrielle started, and tossed her head with the 
gesture of a doe who scents unexpected danger. 

Oh ! she exclaimed. 

The simpler mysteries of nature must be vaguely 
guessed by every woman* child, though told her by no 
tongue and taught her by no book. Deep in 
Gabrielle’ s soul there lay this dormant knowledge. 
Not even paradise knew purity complete, nor did 
Gabrielle. The serpent was there, the heritage of 
Eden. 

Murad saw the color fade from Gabrielle’ s cheeks, 
then flash across them like a flery comet. She sprang 
up as if to run, but something blinded her eyes, shut- 
ting out Murad — the garden — the universe. She 
groped her way from the fountain to the bench and 
sat bolt upright, staring at nothing. Her heart began 
to beat again in a tumult. Suddenly she gave way, 
snatched a cushion and buried her face in her lap. 
Like the woman of Eden she hid herself. 

Murad stood as she left him, with a stifling pity 
that choked in his throat. Almost without knowing 
what he did he crossed the open space and sat beside 
her on the bench. 

My poor, poor child,” he whispered ; ^4t matters 
not. The world is full of evil — one stumbles on it 
unawares.” 

Gabrielle did not sob or cry out; she buried her 
291 


GABRIELLE 


face deeper in the cushion. Murad saw the crimson 
tide of shame that heat at the edges of her hair. He 
stroked her hair softly and spoke to her low : They 
should have taught you,’^ he whispered j ^^a woman 
must know where danger lies, else she may not 
avoid it.’^ 

With a quick movement Gabrielle flung aside the 
pillow. Why should she hide her face? “Yes, yes, I 
know; hut a woman may he innocent. She was so 
beautiful and wept so piteously. Besides, here I am 
— in this garden — I am married. I spend hours and 

hours talking to you. Surely — surely She was 

looking directly at Murad. Something she saw in his 
face caused her to hesitate, then stop. A new lesson, 
a new dread, began hammering at her brain, but she 
steadily refused to let it in. 

“Surely — it was — no harm?’^ Her gaze rested 
upon him beseechingly. Murad half turned away. 

Again the horror came into her eyes — at first a 
glimmer of distrust and fright, then a widening and a 
deeper terror. She closed her eyes tightly but could 
not shut it out. 

Gabrielle staggered to her feet and rested heavily 
on the end of the bench. The two were looking at 
each other in silence. Her figure straightened and 
strengthened. “ Look at me, Murad, she demanded ; 
“nay, do not shift your eyes and turn away. I must 
know. You have taught me much already — teach me 
more.’’ Then her voice fell ; the defiance was gone, 
only the wistfulness remained. Tell me, Murad, tell 
me, was it wrong for me to come here? Could there 
be harm in what has been so sweet a pleasure? ” 

He met her gaze unflinchingly, and answered, 
“:no.” 


292 


THE STAIN 


Gabrielle sighed; the burden fell from her. 
have been very silly, she said, dropping her arms to 
her side. Why did you frighten me! I thought — I 

feared For a space her eyes roamed about the 

old familiar objects of the garden, pausing one by one 
to recognize the playmates of her childhood. They 
were all unchanged ; everything in the garden was 
just as it had always been. Yet why did they speak 
to her with such a different voice ! Why did she feel 
so differently towards them ! 

The truth came as a shock to Gabrielle — the garden 
was at peace, she was in a tumult. The garden had 
been standing still, but she had grown, she had 
matured. The garden was innocent yet ; she had 
become a woman ever and ever so wise. Something 
within her wrenched loose from its fastenings — some- 
thing that ached and bled. 

“I have been very foolish.’^ She spoke most 
seriously. When I was a child I thought it great 
fun to have a secret. I was the only girl in the 
convent who had a secret. I looked upon this garden 
as mine, and never spoke of it. Then you came. We 
shared it, you and I ; still I told no one. I did not 
dream there could be harm or evil or sin in that. I 
could not betray you, nor run you into danger. This 
night I shall tell my father. Jean is wise and good.^’ 

For a long while Murad did not answer her. Then 
he rose from the bench and took both her hands in 
his : ‘^No, Gabrielle, you must not tell your father.’^ 

^ ^ Why ! ’ ^ she asked. And he had no reason to give. 

^^Why should I not tell him; he knows you are 
here, does he not! 

‘^Yes.’^ 

“ You trust him ! 


293 


GABRIELLE 


Absolutely.^’ 

I have done no barm in coming here? ” 

‘"I^one.” 

Then I shall tell my father ! ” 

Yet Murad gave her no reason. He only reiterated, 

You must not.” 

Gabrielle felt relieved that she had done no harm. 
A puzzled expression settled upon her face. She tried 
to comprehend. 

“Oh, I understand it now. Madame de Luc had 
done no harm, yet her husband killed the poor 
gentleman — and — Jean sheltered him. Jean said it 
was right, and — Oh, Murad ! Murad ! Jean would not 
harm you ? He knows you ; he loves you, I am sure 
he does.” Gabrielle’ s arms came dangerously near to 
twining themselves around his neck, and her lips 
approached his own most perilously close. “Jean 
would not harm you? ” 

“I — do — not — know,” Murad answered. He could 
not look her in the face. 

Gabrielle drew back, thoroughly mystified : “But I 
should tell Jean how I happened to meet you in the 
garden — all, from the very first. I should tell him 
how you brought books and pictures into the garden — 
how you spread the rugs and built the pavilion for 
me. I should tell of your illness, and how glad I was 
to help Selim in nursing you. Surely Jean would 
have bade me do that — Jean is so kind-hearted. You 
do not know how often I have longed to talk with 
Jean about the curious things you have told me.” 
Gabrielle lifted her face into the brilliance of the sky, 
fronting the sun himself, the all-seeing eye of God. 
“I have done no wrong,” she said; “I shall fear 
nothing.” 


294 


THE STAIN 


is too late now,” said Murad. “Tour father 
would not believe.” 

“But I shall explain it to him — never you fear.” 

Murad shook his head, and Gabrielle was utterly 
confounded. 

“I cannot understand,” she insisted, “why I 
should not tell him. If he thought it silly he would 
chide me and pinch my ears ; then he’d kiss me, and 
laugh, and pick me up in his big strong arms. Jean 
is not so terrible after all. You do not know how safe 
it feels to lie on that broad breast of his.” Her pallid 
smile flickered like a candle in a storm, then snuffed 
out. She thought of her father in another mood, 
when his voice was gentle and his eye flashed so 
angrily. Murad kept silence. 

“What are you thinking of, Murad? I could 
explain it to my father.” 

“No, my child, I fear not.” He barely spoke the 
words. 

Gabrielle’ s voice wavered : “ You mean that Jean, 

that my father would not believe me f ” 

“He might not.” 

“ My father will believe me ; he shall believe me. I 
never yet told anyone a falsehood. Mother Louise 
knows that.” 

Murad came very close to her now : “Gabrielle, 
you shall not tell your father. I forbid it.” 

“I shall tell him,” she answered simply ; “I know 
what he will think.” 

“ Then” — Murad seated himself upon the bench as 
if the discussion were done. He looked at her and 
smiled queerly — “Then remember what happened to 
Yimont.” 

Gabrielle’ s face turned white to the very lips. 

29 ^ . ... 


GABRIELLE 


Every semblance of color died away, leaving her paler 
than a woman of marble. She said nothing — abso- 
lutely nothing, she was not even conscious of think- 
ing. She sat very still. 

Listen to me, Gabrielle ; let me be plain. Your 
father would never understand. De Tonnay would 
refuse to listen 

“De Tonnay ! ’’ she exclaimed and glanced up with 
a quick inquiry. “ De Tonnay ! I never told you his 
name.” 

“1^0, but your father has told me of him. I asked 
questions. Your father did not suspect why I asked. 
Destiny worketh at times with malice inscrutable. Is 
it not strange — out of millions of men — it should 
happen to be your husband who was my closest com- 
rade in France? We had the same tutor, slept in the 
same bed ; for three years we were inseparable.” 

“Why did you not tell me of it? ” she asked dully. 

“I learned it three nights ago. Raymond de 
Tonnay is a most lovable gentleman, but violent when 
aroused. One could not reason with him if he were 
angered. He is my friend.” 

“Then I might tell him,” Gabrielle suggested 
eagerly ; “’twould make it easy — ^being your friend.” 

“Ho, that makes it worse. He has lived at court 
where women are — are — different from my Gabrielle. 
It has poisoned his mind.” 

Gabrielle went rocking back and forth with hands 
clasped around her knees. 

“I understand it now,” she said finally. “I must 
lie to my father, lie to my husband — lie to everybody 
as though I had committed some awful crime. Or 

” The voice sounded not like Gabrielle’ s ; it was 

broken, quavering, and hard. 

296 


THE STAIN 


For minutes, hours — months, or years — Gabrielle 
continued rocking back and forth. She felt that 
Murad was watching her, she realized that he knew 
exactly what she was thinking, but she no longer 
cared. Gabrielle had been walking in her sleep, 
laughing and dallying as she went, and playing with 
the roses. She waked upon the verge of an abyss, and 
was minded to toss herself over. Why had she 
waked? Why had she not gone on dreaming and 
laughing? Why had she not overstepped the brink 
and been none the wiser? It is very cruel to be 
awakened, very cruel to be wise. 

She was conscious now that Murad came with 
decisive tread and laid his hand upon her shoulder : 

Gabrielle, to-night there will be a fading moon, the 
Moon of Moharrem.’^ 

“Yes, yes, I never forget that. There are but 
seven days. Seven days — seven days.’’ 

“Yes,” he said ; “ in seven nights the new Moon of 
Safar will rise. On the first night of Safar whatever 
fate has decreed for me will surely come to pass.” 
Murad bent over and whispered in her ear, “Let us 
forget the earth, and things of the earth.” 

Gabrielle listened ; not yet had she sounded the 
depth and the breadth of her transgression. 

“See,” whispered Murad j “here are the fiowers — 

the birds — the garden. Here are we ; let us ” 

He checked his ardor, and being fearful of himself, 
withdrew his arm. 

Once more he stood upright before her, and left 
the woman rocking to and fro, hesitating between 
the wisdom that she had learned and the innocence 
which she had not forgotten. The convent bell now 
clanged out, and Gabrielle sprang up : “Oh dear ! I 
297 


GABRIELLE 


had no thought it was so late. Margot is even now at 
the door.^^ 

She ran the faster because she had a new fear in her 
heart — the dread of discovery. 

Waning day shone through Murad^s window. 
Across the floor from west to east crept a blazing 
patch of light. It crept on and on, climbed the 
eastern wall of the room, dazzled amongst the cur- 
tains, and suddenly went out. The sun had fallen. 

Murad sat utterly still, utterly absorbed. In his 
hand there lay the globe which was Gabrielle. 

When flrst he came to the table and took up the 
globe the clouds had gathered. From their streaky 
edges flashes of black ran hither and yon. Gradually 
the tumult quieted on the surface. The globe grew 
still as death. All discoloration settled in the centre. 
Except for this the liquid was clear. 

^^A stain upon the stainless soul,’’ Murad mur- 
mured ; and I put it there.” 

Darkness came. Murad laid the globe aside when 
he could no longer see it. Then he stared into the 
night. A comet blazed in the heavens, menacing war 
and famine. The waning Moon of Moharrem dropped 
steadily through the topmost branches of the pines. 
The seven days of life were melting away. 

Murad thought not of them. He only mourned the 
stain. 


298 


CHAPTER XXIX 

THE STARS 


The evening evened. Long jagged shadows went 
rippling slantwise across the river. The birds grew 
silent. The frogs began. 

Gabrielle, like a dutiful daughter, sat upon her 
father’s doorstep waiting until Jean came out. And, 
like a dutiful daughter, whenever an ofl3.cer of the 
garrison approached she disappeared inside until he 
had passed. Not that she refrained from peeping 
through the shutters, for Gabrielle was a woman. 

Four pirogues lay against the levee-side, directly 
in front of the house. Gabrielle knew that every 
package and every bale had been stowed away dex- 
terously in their bottoms, so the burdens balanced 
and the boats ran smooth. Many of these were 
placed by her own hand. Old Jules always waited 
gallantly until she had returned to the house before 
he set them straight. But he allowed Gabrielle to 
have the joy of helping, which kept her eyes so 
bright and her cheeks so pink. She hurried back 
and forth from the boats with a springy step most good 
for Jules to see. 

Grosjean journeyed that night to Biloxi upon an 
expedition which would consume three days. Now 
that all preparations were made, Gabrielle waited on 
the doorstep for him to come down the stair and 
make his start. 


299 


GABRIELLE 


Had she but listened to her conscience, Gabrielle 
would have admitted that it was not her father who 
filled her thoughts — ^that it was something else to 
which she looked forward with such impatience. 
Gabrielle had learned to know herself, and had also 
learned to evade her own questions. 

Eight voyageurs lounged upon the levee casting 
expectant eyes towards the house, and smiled at 
Gabrielle, who perched on the doorstep. Her eyes 
snapped with excitement j her fingers trembled. So 
keen were all her senses that she heard her father 
coming down the stair in his moccasins. “Oh ! she 
exclaimed; “you surprised me before I knew it. Is 
that the way you slip up on people in the woods 

Grosjean, lithe, muscular and six feet two, stood 
before her equipped for his journey. Gabrielle 
looked him over, from the top of his leathern cap to 
the tip of his deerskin toe. “Jean, I’m so proud of 
you,” she said. 

In any garb Grosjean was a man who might be 
picked from a million. He bent down. Gabrielle 
threw her arms about his neck: “You’ll be home 
again on the third day — the afternoon? ” 

“ ^ Deo volente,’ as the priest says,” he laughed. 

“I shall have two lonely nights,” she pouted and 
smiled. 

“There are the books,” Grosjean suggested; “or 
you might visit Mother Louise.” 

“I shall manage, never fear; but, Jean, there’s to 
be no fighting?” 

“None ; the times are distressingly peaceful.” 

“Margot says you have a keen scent for fighting.” 

“Not this time, my Gabrielle,” he assured her. 
“Keep the door barred. Never go out alone. Send 
300 


THE STARS 


for two sisters if you desire to visit Mother Louise. 
You can employ yourself without me.’^ 

Indeed I shall do quite well,^^ she replied merrily. 
“You are not so important as you imagine. Margot 
and I get along famously.’^ 

Gabrielle^s hands trembled as she clasped her father 
round the neck. There was a warmth in her kiss 
which Grosjean had never felt before. On the long 
water route to Biloxi he remembered it many times. 

“Bar the door,’^ Grosjean warned her finally, and 
stepped off the threshold. “Watch us from the 
window. We go down the river and make portage 
near the English Turn.^^ 

The father waited outside his door until the oaken 
beam slipped into its socket; security slipped into 
his soul, for he knew that Gabrielle was safe. With 
a light tread he strode off towards the boats. 

Gabrielle from her window watched them move out 
upon the sluggish river, the boats trailing one behind 
the other like ducks along a path. When Grosjean 
turned and waved his hand, her handkerchief 
answered him. He smiled, set his face to the south, 
passed beyond the trees, and was gone. 

Gabrielle sat at the window in her night-dress 
watching the pale dim moon, which, like an old man 
shorn of his strength, settled down stupidly to sleep. 
The river, the woods, the great world, were all so 
quiet that they frightened her. “It is the Moon of 
Moharrem,” she whispered to herself, the strange 
foreign word coming naturally to her tongue. She 
remembered everything that Murad told her. 

When Margot came into her room for the last time 
301 


GABRIELLE 


she had cuddled herself in bed. Good-night, 
Margot,” she said in the sleepiest of voices; am 
tired ; I worked overmuch with the boats.” 

Margot straightened the curtains of her bed, then 
went out. Gabrielle listened after her. Everything 
was still. 

She bounded out of bed and went to another win- 
dow. Down, down, down sank the moon, until just 
a tip remained visible above the dense forests to the 
west. In a moment that too was gone. 

A million stars which had been ashamed to twinkle 
while the moon was in the sky, peeped out from their 
hiding-places. They grew bolder and began winking 
at the earth. 

‘^The Moon of Moharrem,” whispered Gabrielle. 
She rose from the window and stole into the room 
where Margot slept. The stars shone in. Like a 
thief she crept to Margot’s bedside. 

‘‘ Margot ! Margot ! ” she called softly. The nurse 
did not stir. Gabrielle glided back to her room and 
began feverishly to dress. Once she stopped to ques- 
tion herself, but shook her head and dressed the 
faster. Taking up her shoes in one hand she crept 
down the stair. 

The doors stood open. The stairs made no sound. 
She avoided the chairs in the lower hall. It was 
easy, after all, to get out of the house. Gabrielle 
drew a long breath of relief when she sat at the edge 
of the porch to put on her shoes. 

The night was wonderfully clear. Each individual 
planet set its stare upon her. She winced, feeling 
that every sentinel of the night had eyes alone for 
her. 

But she finished tying her shoes, then rose and 
302 


THE STARS 


hurried to the vine which hung against the northern 
wall. There she made another stand. ^^It is only- 
four days/^ she said, as if that were sufficient excuse 
for what she might do. 

The way through the wall had grown so familiar it 
mattered little whether ^twere night or day. 

When she parted the vines on the farther side there 
stood Murad, motionless as a spectre, and whiter. 
He startled her. “ Oh ! She caught her breath, then 
smiled dimly, and waited. Gabrielle was frightened, 
why or at what she knew not. 

“I feared you were not coming,^’ he said; ^‘that 
something had happened to prevent.” 

^^iN'o,” she answered, with an odd laugh; ^^the 
moon has just set. I waited until Margot went to 
sleep. Father went away at dusk,” she added, talk- 
ing at random. There was a tension, and Gabrielle 
felt it. 

watched from my window,” said Murad 
gravely, ^^and hated them for keeping you away 
from me all these days.” 

Yes, for three days I could not come ; Jean kept 
me busy at the noon hour. After that I feared he 
might come back and miss me. He was in and out 
every minute. I could never be sure.” Gabrielle 
made her confession awkwardly; she realized per- 
fectly the guilty secret she was hiding from her father. 

^^They were three very long days,” said Murad 
quietly; sat alone in the garden. But we shall 
be very happy now in the little time that is left us.” 

Gabrielle tried to speak naturally, to be at her ease : 
“Yes, you are to tell me stories — many of them. We 
are not to worry or seek trouble.” 

“Yes, I know,” he answered. 

303 


GABRIELLE 


They walked together beneath the stars, along their 
old familiar way towards the bench. Gabrielle kept 
unwonted distance from him — not that she feared, not 
for any reason. It simply happened so. Murad was 
quick to observe this. He, like Gabrielle, felt the 
barrier between them. But he, unlike Gabrielle, 
understood the cause. Gabrielle only knew that she 
held to one side of the path while Murad kept the 
other. And yet, there were only four days remaining 

until — until Gabrielle would never put this 

dread “ until into words. 

“The comet is beautiful to-night,’^ she ventured, 
glancing at the monster, to which she gave no 
thought. 

“Tes,’^ answered Murad j “it is carrying fire to 
the sun. Otherwise the sun would fade and we 
should have eternal night. Even the sun needs 
replenishing. Nothing can feed upon itself, or it 
dies.^^ 

Murad spoke in a tone which suggested queer 
things to Gabrielle. She dared not look at him ; nor 
durst she ask a question. They passed on slowly and 
in silence, guided only by the light of the stars. 

A meteor fiared across the heavens. Gabrielle 
shrank. 

“Have no fear,’^ whispered Murad, touching her 
upon the arm; “the bolt is not for you. It is aimed 
at the fallen angels who strive to peep into paradise.’^ 

Gabrielle was interested, so Murad continued : “Al- 
lah, like earthly kings, must set a watch upon the fron- 
tiers of His kingdom. Blessed angels stand upon the 
lowest battlements of paradise and hurl their bolts at 
evil ones who seek entrance to that glorious place. Be 
of peace, my Gabrielle, the bolt is not for you.’^ 

304 


THE STARS 


Gabrielle had stopped, with face upturned to those 
myriad eyes of the night. Murad gazed only into her 
own. 

^^The bolt may well be aimed at me,’’ he added; 

my rebellious heart hath dreamed of climbing into a 
paradise that is not for me.” She made no answer; 
she only thrilled, and feared, and was happy. 

They reached the fountain, and Gabrielle bent over 
the pool. Murad stood beside her. “Look,” he said, 
“at those other heavens, as full of throbbing worlds 
as the one above us. This shallow pool mirrors the 
glory of the sky, and reflects the infinite spaces so 
truly that no eye could detect the difference. ’Tis 
very like a sage who puffe himself up with wise looks 
and solemn words, reflecting from his shallow pate all 
the wisdom of all the ages, and yet remaineth a fool. 
Mark how his wits can be addled.” Murad dropped 
the oar into the pool, and Gabrielle laughed. 

“But the heavens are the same,” she said, looking 
upward. “You cannot change them.” 

“ I^^o, they are the Truth. I only meant to show how 
the errors of man may be put to flight. But we are 
not to talk of that. Come, see what I have prepared 
for you. The pavilion is en 

Gabrielle, intent on what Murad was telling her, 
had not observed the pavilion, which glowed with a 
light so vague and indefinable it seemed as if one 
imagined it. 

“Look ! ” he said, stepping to the door and drawing 
the curtain. 

Gabrielle clasped her hands. It was very beautiful, 
and very strange. In a few moments her eyes became 
accustomed to the weird suffusion of light which ema- 
nated from nowhere, and cast no shadows. She could 
20 305 


GABRIELLE 


not be sure that there were hidden lamps, subdued 
and shaded j she only realized that she could see 
quite distinctly. 

Murad bowed gravely before the door, and pointed 
her within: “You are now a sultana journeying 
across the desert on your pilgrimage to Mecca. 

Gabrielle stepped inside the tent. Murad followed 
and watched the girPs astonishment. Had his royal 
mother seen the gewgaws with which he had decked 
the pavilion she would have smiled. But they inter- 
ested Gabrielle, so their mission was fulfilled. 

'No sultana could have found fault with the richness 
or the comfort of the couch ; it was the couch which 
idolatrous love had provided for Murad’s personal use 
when he fled across Arabia. It was low and broad 
and richly draped with tapestries of Moorish horsemen, 
with floating banners, and many other wonderful 
things. Over all were festoons of shimmering Persian 
silks whose colors blended rarely and rested the eye. 
Beside it stood a tiny taboret upon which was a vase 
of intricate design whence subtle perfumes came. 

Gabrielle entered step by step, sinking ankle- deep 
into the priceless rugs, and stopping to guess at the 
mingled odors which changed with every puff of 
wind. 

Gabrielle sat down on the edge of the couch. “I 
slept here once — almost,” she said. “But I told you 
about it, did I not? ” 

She sat there swinging one foot and occupying her- 
self with gazing at the curious things which filled the 
pavilion. Then she bent over and picked up a queer- 
looking musical instrument which lay against the 
taboret. ^ ‘ What’ s this ? ’ ’ 

“That is a kitar,” Murad explained, “called a 
306 


THE STARS 


kitar of the heart, because it hath but one string, and 
heavenly melodies may be played upon it.’^ 

Oh ! ” Gabrielle sat silent. The soft glow lighted 
her features delicately, without glare and without 
shadow. So deftly was the light contrived that it 
suggested mystery and piqued imagination. 

Murad looked down upon her. By chance she 
brushed the solitary string of the kitar, and they 
listened whilst the wailing note died away. 

The perfume, the lights, the whispering of that 
heart-string brought a delicious bewilderment to Ga- 
brielle. Out of the dimness, out of the perfume, out 
of the murmurings of that strange foreign music she 
felt two steady eyes fixed upon her. Her breath came 
quick. She clutched the kitar and it complained 
again. She dropped it. It hushed upon the rug. 

For one intoxicating instant she closed her eyes, 
then opened them. She sprang up and stood erect 
beside Murad. She could hear the beating of his 
heart — he, the placid one — and his heart was beating 
wildly. 

Murad stretched forth his hand, yet Gabrielle passed 
from him — out of the pavilion — out beneath the stars. 

You promised to tell me stories — remember that,^^ 
she murmured. Murad did not answer. He did not 
hear. 

The perfumes came with Gabrielle ; the softness of 
the light came with her. The vibrations of the kitar 
followed her — the kitar of a solitary string. 

All of these came out of the pavilion with Gabrielle. 


307 


CHAPTER XXX 

THE PERIL 


Gabeielle passed out of tlie pavilion, beyond the 
miracle glow of golden lamps, and candles that 
diffused a scent of musk. She passed beyond the 
caressing fumes of aloewood that made her giddy 
with whispers to which she dare not listen. Gabrielle 
stepped from muffling rugs that deadened every 
sound, to the soft brown cushion of the pines. She 
passed into the companionship of the garden, into the 
peace of the night, beneath the safety of the stars. 

Gabrielle passed out of the pavilion, where her rest- 
less soul had stirred most strangely ; she took one 
quicker step and one longer breath. At the door she 
turned, looked back again, and drank a delicious 
draught of those intoxicating suggestions before she 
put temptation from her lips. She listened to the 
whispers before she put the voice behind her. 

Murad stood in the center of the pavilion, his arms 
folded ; his flowing garments trailed across the floor 
and mingled with the coverlet of the couch. He 
regarded her intently. With the faintest smile 
Gabrielle stepped backward — backward — backward, 
until she was gone. 

And in that moment Gabrielle thought of what 
Murad once had said: ^^A thousand years are as 
nothing in the East.’’ He waited patiently. Gabrielle 
felt that whatever he was waiting for would surely 
308 


THE PERIL 


come to pass. Tireless, motionless, the spirit incar- 
nate of that mystic East, Murad watched Gabrielle — 
and waited. 

But the eyes were not patient. They burned and 
glittered as the desert sparkles beneath the passion of 
the sun. On Murad’s bosom the star of birthright 
gleamed, and trembled as he breathed. Every facet 
of every gem fixed its eyes upon the woman, for they 
were enemies — the star of birthright and the woman 
of the garden. For a moment Gabrielle and the star 
seemed to be watching each other, measuring their 
weapons as wary swordsmen do. Gabrielle dropped 
her eyes and laughed nervously : Come, Murad, let 

us sit on the bench ; it is cooler.” 

Across’ the hushing rugs he came and brought with 
him a retinue of odors which like a conquering 
inundation overwhelmed the gentler perfumes that 
abided in the garden. 

^‘It is cooler here,” Gabrielle repeated, half in 
apology, taking her seat upon the bench and leaning 
back so that she might better gaze into the heavens. 
There were the stars, the merry little stars ; Gabrielle 
loved them, for they reminded her of the beginning of 
her love. Her thoughts strayed back to that first 
night when she dreamed of Murad plucking these 
stars from the great one at his breast and pinning 
them against the sky. She clung to the fancy that 
they were Murad’s stars, and that is why she loved 
them. 

^ ‘Murad,” she whispered, pointing upward, 
“Mother Louise told me once that the stars were 
little holes in the floor of heaven, and their light was 
God’s glory peeping through. Ho you believe it f ’ 

“It is a very beautiful thought,” he answered her. 

309 


GABRIELLE 


^^One night I stood upon a hill-top and watched 
my spearmen marching past. It was a wonderful 
spectacle. So I often think of the heavens as an 
embattled field, and each star as the tip of a spear. 

“ I like mine the best,’^ Gabrielle insisted. 

And I like yours the best,” he agreed. have 
done with armies, with conquests, and the pride of 
kings.” An odd ring came into Murad’s voice, so 
odd that Gabrielle looked quickly at him. 

He checked himself, holding leash upon the words 
that tugged at his lips. Then he pointed upwards and 
began to speak with that tone which always riveted 
Gabrielle’ s attention : ‘ ^ Do you see that group ? Look 
this way — at the end of my finger — so small that they 
huddle together with fright? Those are the seven 
sisters. There is a story.” 

Gabrielle clasped her hands in her lap and listened 
eagerly. 

^‘Many ages ago when the world was ruled by 
heathen gods, lusty young Orion beheld the seven 
daughters of Atlas, and love gat hold upon his heart. 
For they were like unto the rising full moon. He 
rejoiced greatly, and his breast expanded with hap- 
piness. But they would have none of him. Orion 
was troubled, and his color changed. He pursued. 
The maidens fled, and besought Jove, who ordained 
them safety. Jove transformed them into stars and 
set them in the sky. At first there were seven ; now 
there are only six, for Electra put on mourning 
garments and faded from her place rather than behold 
the ruin of a city which was builded by her son. 

“ Orion wasted not his youth by loving women who 
were in the sky. He became enamoured of another. 
This woman’s father put out Orion’s eyes and cast 
310 


THE PERIL 


him on the sea-shore. The sun-god out of pity 
restored him to his sight. 

Diana, goddess of the hunt, saw and loved him, 
for his limbs were cast in the mould of symmetry and 
beauty. Her brother Apollo devised a stratagem by 
which to bring Orion into evil case. One day whilst 
Orion was wading through the seas and only his head 
appeared above the water, Apollo pointed out the 
black spot to his sister, challenging her to strike it 
with a dart. Diana discharged a shaft so skilfully 
that she slew Orion. The sea waves dashed his body 
to the shore. At this Diana wept unceasing, extolling 
his beauteous perfections. She heaped dust upon her 
head and became as one distraught. She took her 
dead lover in her arms and set him amongst the stars. 
There you may see Orion, pursuing the fleeing 
Pleiads, with Sirius, his faithful dog, at his heels. 

Gabrielle sat stiller than the stars, and her eyes 
were just as bright. “ So the goddess killed the one 
she loved"? 

Yes, then placed him in the sky where she might 
see him forever. 

^^But he loved other women, you say, and pursues 
them yetf” 

Murad smiled : It is but a fable. There are many 
such fables about the stars.” 

I do not like to hear such stories. I ” 

^^And sometimes,” Murad began reflectively, 
^^when I look at a cloudy sky and see but three or 
four stars, I think of the Hindoo girl beside the River 
Ganges. Should her lover die, or go upon a journey, 
the girl creeps down to the river at night with a 
candle set in a tiny wicker boat. With many prayers 
she sets the flickering light afloat, believing it to 
311 


GABRIELLE 


represent tlie soul of her beloved. If it floats steady 
the omen is good, and the girl makes glad her heart. 
But if the boat should overturn she weeps and rends 
her hair, for it bodes misfortune. 

How beautiful to think that yon stars are each the 
soul of some departed hero floating proudly down the 
current of the skies. 

like that story better. When you are gone — 
Gabrielle forced the words most bravely — ‘‘When 
you are gone I shall set a light floating in the fountain 
where it will be sure not to overturn.^’ 

Murad smiled at her earnestness. “Nay, let us not 
go forward to meet evil hap upon the way. We have 
yet four days. See,’’ he pointed to the sky again, 
“if your eyes be keen you can see two twinkling 
atoms midway between Orion’s belt and the Pleiads. 
They are very near together, side by side, and hand 
in hand.” 

“Yes, yes, I can see themj two baby twinklers. 
Are they not brave! And so happy with each 
other.” 

“I often gaze upon them,” Murad continued, 
“and imagine them to be our souls — yours and mine 
— wandering through all eternity. They seem welded 
into one, but there is a space dividing them.” 

“Yes,” Gabrielle answered, little guessing the 
wisdom of her words ; “they are very close, yet they 
are divided, and eternity itself cannot weld them into 
one.” 

Murad glanced at her. It had been merely a 
thoughtless speech. She had not meant it. 

“But the sweetest thought of all,” he went on, 
“ comes near the middle hour of the night when I sit 
upon this bench in dreamful mood. It is then that I 
312 


THE PERIL 


imagine those stars are street-lamps in the City of 
Jewels, which is the capital of the Country of 
Delight. Then I do fancy that you and I shall 
wander along the streets of that miracle city, whose 
paving-stones are blue ; we shall wander forever and 
forever amongst its palaces and its gardens. There 
shall be a secret garden, like unto this, and a foun- 
tain, such as that — else ^twould be no Country of 
Delight. In India there lives a bird which catches 
fireflies to light its nest. I shall catch for you the 
stars of heaven to light our love. Gabrielle ! 
Gabrielle I’’ 

Gabrielle drew a sharp breath. “No ! No I’’ she 
exclaimed, not knowing what she said, and sprang 
erect. 

“But heed me, Murad, she said; “ there is some- 
thing I would say to you. I have much time to sit 
alone, and I think of nothing except your safety. 
Would it not be wise for you to fly into the forest 
until this dreadful day has passed ? Jean knows every 
path, every trail ; the Indians are his friends. They 
could hide you beyond all pursuit. You would be 
safe, Murad, safe.’^ 

Murad shook his head : “Remember the story of 
the loadstone mountain, and the merchant’s son who 
was decreed to die by the hand of Agib. Here is an 
ant-heap in the desert. I stir it. An ant runs out. 
What doth it profit him to run ? If I so desire may 
I not crush him with my heel? Should the Ven- 
geance of the Sultan reach me in this garden, then no 
spot on all the earth is secure. I shall remain here — 
by your side — until the end.” 

There was a long silence before Gabrielle spoke 
again. 


313 


GABRIELLE 


“Yes, the garden is very peaceful. It seems 
impossible to imagine harm entering here. Was 
there ever a night so holy? No evil thought could 
live within this place. Yet I should feel more at ease 
if you but went into the forest with Jean. Some- 
times I feel that I shall scream aloud for stress of 
waiting. 

“You are anxious, my Gabrielle? 

“Yes.^^ Gabrielle’ s whisper came lower than the 
rustling of the cottonwood leaves, softer than a sigh 
which trembled in the heart of the pine. 

Murad sprang up and stood before her, his voice 
quivering: “That will I do, my Gabrielle. I shall 
go into the forest. Go with you — with you — alone.” 

“ I? ” She cowered into a corner of the bench, her 
lips apart, her face turned upward to him and to the 
stars. “With me? I could be no help to you — 
naught but a hindrance.” 

“Yes, you and you alone. Gabrielle! Gabrielle! 
Do you not comprehend that love for you has taken 
the place of ambition, of life itself, of religion ? For 
you will I toss this bauble from me.” Murad tore the 
star from his throat and dashed it to the ground. 
“What matter these gauds and trinkets? You have 
taught me my boasted wisdom is a lie.” 

Gabrielle recoiled from him like a stricken thing, 
leaning forward, covering her face and breathing very 
hard. “ Come, my Gabrielle, let us go to the forest — 
you and I. There in the savagery of primeval man 
we shall build our shelter, and the shadow of empire 
will never darken it. Come, the world lies before us. 
Let us choose. The seas? Would you choose the 
bounding seas that never knew a shackle? Choose 
Paris? Vienna? Rome? The capitals of the world 
314 


THE PERIL 


are open to ns. Choose you one of them and it shall 
be yours. Look up, Gabrielle, look up ! The night of 
terror has passed. The day is breaking. Look up ! 
Murad touched her on the shoulder, and the thrill ran 
through her body as he had seen it run through the 
liquid in the globe. She struggled to her feet. Even 
in the starlight he saw the deathly pallor of her face. 

“ Hush, Murad, hush ; you forget. You forget my 
husband, my father, myself. I am a wedded wife.^^ 

“Your husband knows nothing of you, nor cares. 
During all those years in Paris he never spoke your 
name. Put him aside. Be my wife ; I have the best 
right. 

“But my holy Church — one wife — one husband — 
one God — forever.’^ 

“What matters the Church or your religion 

“ Would you give up ? 

“Everything freely. If I take you to wife no son 
of Islam will follow my standards to battle and wage 
holy war in my name. What I forsake is nothing; 
what I gain is all. I am wiser now. I know my 
duty to you, my duty to your father, whose guest I 
am. I know my duty to your husband, who is my 
friend.^’ Murad spoke swiftly, as a man who has 
thought much, and chosen: “My dream of empire 
shall wither. I shall blast the hope of thousands who 
wait to hear my trumpets sounding in the desert. 
What care 1% Gabrielle, will you not make me the 
Sultan of this Garden Empire, bounded by these 
walls, with this bench for a throne — and you 

Gabrielle backed away from him, terrorized by the 
passion which flamed in Murad’s eyes. Step by step 
she went, just as she had done on that memorable day 
when he first confronted her. Murad followed her. 

315 


GABRIELLE 


In this way she crossed the open spaces where the 
stars shone down, entered the shadow of the magnolia 
and stopped with her back against its trunk. 
Gabrielle could retreat no farther. There was none 
to whom she might call for help. In all the universe 
there was only this one man, those far-away stars, and 
the vacancy of the night. 

^ ^ Murad, she pleaded; the tone of her voice 
halted him more surely than if a warrior of might 
had smitten him. He stopped, and the passion of his 
tongue was stilled. 

Murad, I am only a foolish girl; you are very 
wise and very good. You understand everything 
much better than I. My heart tells me this is wrong, 
wrong for you to say, and sinful for me to listen. I 
feel so strangely here in my breast — it flutters and ^tis 
like to choke me. I scarce do know how to make you 
comprehend.’^ 

Murad stretched out both his arms, but did not 
touch her ; ^^Gabrielle, you speak as if you fear me. 
I ” 

^‘Ko, it is not that; I have no fear of you. I 
feared Mother Louise and loved her. I fear my 
father and love him. But fear of you has never 
entered my heart, else I should not have come into 
the garden. Before this night I never stopped to 
consider. I wanted to come. I came. That was all. 
But I learned something a while ago — in that 
pavilion. I do not know what it was, but I learned 
it. I felt queer, and shivered. Now I am different — 
greatly different. Did you observe that I was alarmed 
and frightened at nothing — only at myself? But you 
stood there, so strong and good, and my fear was 
gone. You did startle me, Murad ; you were so 
316 


THE PERIL 


excited. Now you are yourself, and I am not 
afraid.^ ^ Gabrielle laid a hand upon his robe, and 
her confidence made no mistake. The master of a 
thousand slaves held the lash above his own soul. 

“Murad, my husband is coming to-morrow, or the 
third day at farthest. If he knew the truth he would 
allow me to visit you here. He is your friend j it 
would be only for one day, or two, but they mean so 
much to me.’^ Gabrielle’ s voice fell low, and her lip 
quivered j but the hand upon his sleeve held firm. 

“I understand it now,” she went on, leading him 
back to the bench. 

“Wisdom came all at once, to-night. I know the 
danger now ; I know — many things. But, Murad ! 
Murad ! I did not want to understand — I did not 
want to know. There are but four days more, and 

then ” Beyond this point Gabrielle’ s imagination 

did not run. 

Murad rose and took her by the hand. He led her 
out of the shadow of the pine into the shining spaces 
of the night. Though she wondered why he did this, 
she suffered him to have his will. 

He laid a hand upon her shoulder and turned her 
face upward so that the brilliance of the stars might 
sink into her eyes. He drew her gently to him and 
kissed her brow — a precious kiss, though brow and 
lips were cold. A shiver ran through Gabrielle, 
causeless as the tremor in the leaves above her head. 

“I knew,” she said most simply, “that I need not 
fear you. In all the world I’d come to you for 
sympathy and protection.” 

Presently Gabrielle drew away from him, stooped 
and picked up the jewelled star which he had cast 
upon the ground. “God made you for this,” she 
317 


GABRIELLE 


said, and fastened it round his neck. ^^It is your 
destiny.’^ 

When this was done Gabrielle smiled, lifted the 
star to her lips and kissed it : Good-night, Murad. 

Back through the starlit night she went. Back 
through the pale and passionless garden she went. 

She hesitated beside a shining bush of jasmine ; 
she wavered at the pomegranate tree ; she tottered at 
the vines, but she went on, and vanished. 

The stars looked down upon Murad standing alone 
— those mocking street-lamps of his shattered city 
which lieth in the mythical Country of Delight. 


318 


CHAPTER XXXI 

THE FIRST OF SAFAR 


^‘The day is coming ; the day is breaking, Gabri- 
elle murmured over and over to herself, although it 
was yet dark in her room, and not even the pallor of 
false morning had crept in to frighten her. 

^Ht is coming ! It is coming ! The thought kept 
dinning at her brain until it was like to drive her 
mad. It is almost here. Almost.’’ 

Gabrielle rose from a pillow which had granted her 
no rest, glided to the window and crouched on the 
floor beside it. A shivering huddle of white and 
wretchedness, she leaned her chin upon the window- 
ledge. The stars had not begun to fade. Each one 
seemed to be looking straight at Gabrielle, and each 
reminded her of something Murad had said. Mother 
of Mercy ! could she ever forget what those stars had 
witnessed during her three nights in the garden? 
Could she ever forget what those stars knew? — for 
stars must know what a woman feels. 

She looked up at them — those street-lamps of the 
City of Jewels, the capital of the Country of Delight. 
Eed-eyed Antares stared down at her, and Gabrielle 
hid her face. Antares knew. 

Then Gabrielle looked up again, and smiled, and 
was not ashamed. The stars were her friends ; they 
shared her secret. It is comforting to be partner with 
the stars. 


319 


GABRIELLE 


But they were leaving her now ; they were grow- 
ing dim. That pitiless streak above the tree-tops 
waxed broader as though the heart of the forest were 
being consumed. Higher into the sky it climbed. 
The stars fled. Gabrielle wished that she might bid 
the sun stand still. Freely would she have halted 
the universe, and doomed her country to perpetual 
night. 

A tiny beetle, with wings of red and black and 
gold, went crawling across the window-ledge. A 
spider’s web entangled it. Indifferently Gabrielle 
watched the struggling thing, for all creatures must 
have their troubles. Then she began to feel a kinship 
for the beetle, it was so helpless and so unconsidered. 

She wondered if the beetle thought, if the beetle 
felt and suffered. She wondered if such an atom of 
life could love. God had made the beetle, and God 
had set the snare of the spider in its path. By whose 
fault did the snare and the temptation and the peril 
come to her? God had not given her strength to 
overcome them all. A bitter resentment boiled in 
Gabrielle’ s soul, surged into her throat and choked 
her. Why should God sit placidly upon His throne 
and permit this agony? If God were just and 
merciful would He do it ? 

Never before had Gabrielle dared ask such ques- 
tions of herself, or dared to think. She stood aghast 
at her own blasphemy. Then she clenched her lips 
and steeled her heart. It was the truth ; she dared to 
think, she dared to feel, she dared to resent. She 
thrust out her hand and rent the spider’s web — 
brushed the meshes from the beetle’s wing and flung 
it free into the air. Thankless beetle ! It flew away. 
Yet Gabrielle felt a sense of elation that she had 
320 


THE FIRST OF SAFAR 


pitted her will against the Divine, and righted one 
crime against the helpless. 

The beetle was gone. The spider cowered in his 
lair. No mighty hand reached downward from the 
sky to rend the web which encompassed Gabrielle. 
The sky was blank and grim and hopeless. 

Petition and prayer she cast into the heavens. No 
answer came. A deaf God, blind and dumb, ignored 
alike her blasphemy and her prayers. 

Long streaks of crimson shot through the ambient 
air like spokes of a fiery wheel. A burning hub 
appeared. The imperial sun emerged, rested an 
instant on the tree-tops and bounded upward into 
space. Alone he rode, proud and solitary. ^^He 
brooks no brother near the throne Gabrielle 
repeated a remark that Murad once had made when 
he compared this sun unto the sultan. She smiled to 
herself — everything reminded her of Murad. The 
stars reminded her of him — the river and the skies, 
all the broad universe, were but echoes of what Murad 
had taught her. 

There was the sun — Murad^s country lay in the 
throbbing heart of the sun. There was the river — 
had he not told her many times of those rivers in 
paradise more odoriferous than musk and whiter than 
milk? Had he not told her of Hindoo girls beside 
the Ganges? Of the Euphrates that watered Eden? 
How could she help thinking of Murad when she 
looked upon the river ? 

It is the day — the First of Safar,’^ Gabrielle mur- 
mured to herself. She rose and stood at the window, 
a chill wind pressing her garment against her. The 
day of terror had come ; God had deserted her. She 
dropped her arms. 

n 


321 


GABRIELLE 


Gabrielle watched the sun as if she half expected it 
to change its course. And the river, too j but that 
flowed on as usual, heedless whether Murad lived or 
died. Some crows flew over her head towards the 
woods crowing discordantly. Their clamor irritated 
her. 

A man strode by whistling, going to his work at 
the rice mill. Gabrielle hated him for his merry 
indifference. She forgot to draw the curtain as he 
glanced at her window. . The man turned his head 
before passing out of view. She stared back at him 
and wondered why he should smile at her misery. 

But the day had come ; it was the First of Safar. 
That was the important thing. Presently she heard 
Jean moving around his room very quietly so as not 
to disturb her. She began dressing. Jean would 
soon be knocking at her door, telling her that the sun 
was in the skies, and only lazy girls kept their beds. 
As if she did not know the sun had risen. 

Gabrielle took up one dress after another. ^^Not 
this: nor that; nor that.’^ She went to the closet, 
and took out her discarded convent garb. Gabrielle 
felt safer in that. During all the years she had worn 
it she had never known a sorrow. I^’either had she 
known happiness — as she knew happiness now. 

“It was in this that he first saw me — unless — 

unless She thought of the unsolved riddle of the 

fountain, flushed happily, and drew the coarse gray 
folds about her. 

When Gabrielle was clad, she opened her door and 
came face to face with Grosjean. Even so blind a 
father as Jean could see that all was not well. 

^ ‘ What ails my Gabrielle ? ’ ’ His big voice dropped 
tenderly, then rose again as he caught her arm and 
322 


THE FIRST OF SAFAR 


began to tease : “ Come, take cheer. Surely his ship 
will arrive within the week.^’ 

Man as he was, Grosjean comprehended that his 
daughter was not fretting for her husband. So he 
held his peace. 

Their breakfast was silent. The helpless hands of 
Grosjean lay idly on the table. Gabrielle ate nothing. 
She did not even mislead him by crumbling the food 
upon her plate. 

shall go to the governor at once,^’ Grosjean said, 
and went away. Gabrielle watched him as far as she 
could see. 

Presently Margot, too, departed at this most unac- 
customed hour for the convent. Gabrielle asked no 
questions. She dropped the oaken bar into its socket 
and came back through the silent house. Alone, 
she said to herself again and again j “alone ; alone.’’ 

She drifted into her own little garden, familiar, 
cheerless and empty. Feelings came and went, like 
all others, in the rush of a multitude. There was but 
one perpetual thought in her mind which neither 
came nor went — it was always there. Gabrielle 
glanced at the wall, stopped and shook her head 
defiantly : “ Why shouldn’t I ? What could happen ? 
It is the last day.” She passed through the scupper- 
nong arbor, through the breach in the wall, and stood 
on the farther side. 

Once more the garden of her childhood had become 
to her a place of fear. She dreaded to part the vines 
and look beyond ; perhaps they were hiding some- 
thing. But Gabrielle had her father’s courage, and 
she dared. 

“My Gabrielle, I have waited long.” 

Murad’s voice greeted her, full and strong, and 
323 


GABRIELLE 


buoyant with life. There was something in his tone, 
something in that one quick step which he took 
towards her — something, she knew not what — but it 
sent the blood tingling to her heart and lips and 
brain. 

Silent she stood, clutching at a girder of the grape. 
She attempted to speak but could not. She was cold ; 
and she stifled as one who tries to cry out in a dream. 
She had planned a thousand things to tell him if he 
lived. ISTow she could not even speak to him. He 
had been waiting for her — waiting for her; in the 
supreme joy of that Gabrielle forgot all else. 

^‘Come,^’ he said. He took her by the hand and 
she followed unresistingly to their sacred place upon 
the bench. 

‘^Sit there. He spoke, and Gabrielle obeyed him. 

The pavilion was gone. The cushions and the 
couch and the rugs — all were gone, gone like a pass- 
ing dream. Gabrielle did not miss them ; she noted 
no change in the garden. Murad was here ; that was 
sufficient. He wanted to speak to her ; she would 
listen. 

He stood before her in the old familiar attitude, 
with folded arms and black eyes that glittered more 
fervidly than the star. The color of his robe she did 
not note ; she only saw that his face was very pale. 
His voice came low, and she held her breath. 

^‘Gabrielle, this is the First of Safar.^^ 

Yes, it is the day,’’ she answered. 

^^The day of the crucible,” he said; “the day of 
choice. Listen. You love me, and my soul bows in 
reverence. These nights in the garden alone with 
you have made me care naught for the Prophet’s par- 
adise. The Prophet’s paradise could not be happier ; 

324 


THE FIRST OF SAFAR 


religion offers me nothing half so pure. The faith of 
ages promises no reward that is comparable with 
this.’^ 

Murad’s figure straightened. Gabrielle looked at 
him wonderingly, he seemed so tall and strong. He 
lifted both his arms unto the skies as if addressing 
some false god whom he had renounced. 

cast them all aside,” he burst out; who 
have been sleeping, I have waked.” 

Gabrielle did not gasp or stir a lash. With parted 
lips she held her face upturned to his, as the famished 
desert to a storm of rain which sinks and leaves no 
sign. She sat utterly still and listened. He had bade 
her listen. 

“Gabrielle, it is just that you should know of me. 
My mother was a Venetian, a Christian ; my father 
the mightiest monarch of the East. She was his 
favorite wife ; I his chosen son. You cannot imagine 
the luxury with which my father surrounded me, the 
indolence, the voluptuous delights. Were I to tell 
you of my youth you would hate me — you would not 
let me kiss the sand you tread. Neither would you 
understand, for the ways of the West are not the ways 
of the East. Blood runs slow in the West. The East 
alone knows how to crowd a lifetime into one 
delirious night, then to welcome a death most gladly 
purchased. 

“At twenty I was wild, ungoverned, nothing 
balked my whim. After a night of maddest revel, 
such as had never been in Bagdad, I forsook my 
gardens and freed my dancing-girls. I went into the 
world and studied much. Ill hap befell my country. 
My father followed evil counsellors and the people 
groaned. Such as murmured he struck dead. Yet 
325 


GABRIELLE 


lie lived in dread of revolt and assassination. So lie 
gave it out that I should be his successor in the stead 
of Achmet, my older brother. Whereat the people 
were comforted, and made patience to wait. Achmet 
did away with our father and seized the throne. All 
else you know.” Murad paused, then went on again, 
for Gabrielle made no sign. 

‘‘But the leaven works. The pile is ready for the 
torch. My friends will soon be here with their war- 
ship. If I but outlive this day, and set my standards 
to the breeze, I shall be the sultan.” Murad^s voice 
sounded dull and spiritless, lacking the enthusiasm of 
warrior or of prophet. 

“But Gabrielle, my Gabrielle! You say I have 
taught you much. Listen to what you have taught 
me.” The full tones rose in Murad’s throat — rose and 
rang and trembled. 

“You have taught me that a sultan may be poor 
indeed ; that I should sit upon a barren throne wield- 
ing a bauble above a vacant empire — if I had not 
you.” 

Gabrielle did not move j she drew a long, sweet 
breath as though she sipped the edges of a cup from 
which she dared not drink. 

“ These last ten years,” he continued, “I have led 
a life as pure as yours. I have belonged not to myself, 
but to a Cause, and those who trusted me. If you 
knew the East you might understand. The devotion 
of Islam hangs upon their belief in my sanctity. 
When that faith is gone, all is gone, my power is 
lost.” Murad paused as if he found it hard to speak 
the words which should bring a bitter truth to 
Gabrielle. 

“ Gabrielle, you know not what superstitions lurk in 
326 


THE FIRST OF SAFAR 


the fanatical heart of the East. Were I to take but 
one wife, and she an unbeliever, my own people would 
turn like wolves and destroy me in my palace. Nay, 
nay, child, let not thy lips be pale. This is the day of 
choice ; I must choose between you and the Empire. 

Gabrielle’s bosom heaved, like the sea. Her eyes 
closed, then opened again, brave and blue and deep. 

^^Oh, my Gabrielle ! these days in the garden, these 
nights beneath the stars, have made me realize what is 
worthless, and what is of worth. I shall put Empire 
in the balance with Gu-brielle, and toss the crown 
aside. 

Gabrielle’s fingers twitched, but she gave no other 
sign of life. His words sunk into her soul rather 
than entered at the ears. 

Rapidly Murad spoke, like a hot wind that swept 
across the desert: “What have you done for me? 
You have made me live, I who was dead to human 
feeling. You have made me a man, I who was an 
anchorite. You have made me live, and suffer, and 
kiss the wounds that bled — ^thanking Allah, for the 
dead soul bleeds not.” 

Gabrielle sat pale, dizzy, immovable, her fingers 
grasping the bench and her eyes wide open. Murad 
came gently to her, took her face in both his hands, 
and gazed long into that azure sea wherein his soul 
had found itself 

“Blue,” he whispered j “blue as the innermost 
heart of heaven. And I see the light. Ah, dear one 
of my soul ! I see the lights which glimmer, then fade 
away and leave the blue again. And every tiny star, 
and every glimmer of light within thine eyes I know 
to be a world — a world infinite. 

“Last night you and I did sit upon this bench and 
327 


GABRIELLE 


throb with the beauty of those heavens which are 
made for us alone. We saw the sparkling worlds 
which dangled like jewels from the fringes of a cloud 5 
we saw the panting worlds whose sweet mad breath 
pulsed downward from a thousand million miles ; we 
saw the timid worlds which hid their faces when we 
gazed ; we saw the bolder worlds staring at us in 
return. We saw the stars which drew veils across 
their bosoms — stars which stripped their bosoms bare 
— white stars of purity — and red stars of passion. 

^^Ah! Gabrielle, my Gabrielle ! Those worlds are 
beyond my reach. Many nights they have mocked 
me when I sat here alone. But all of them, and more, 
do I possess when I gaze into the twin blue heavens of 
your eyes. I^^ay, nay, my star-decked sultana, close 
not the lattice of thy lashes, which like a dropt port- 
cullis bars my path to paradise. Shall my arms be 
stretched to you as emptily as I stretch them unto the 
skies 

A sob burst from Gabrielle. She threw herself 
face downward upon the bench. ^ ^ iN'o, Murad, no ; do 

not bend and kiss me. l^ot yet, not yet 

dare not kiss you — yet,’^ and his hot breath 
fanned her cheek. ‘^There’s a flower grows in Trebi- 
zond upon which the bees do feed, and the honey 
thereof driveth men mad. I dare not kiss you — yeV^ 

Her shoulders quivered at his touch as beneath the 
branding-iron. He took his hand away, and stood 
apart. Gabrielle lifted the whiteness of her face. 
Love had fled from eyes and cheeks to hide in the 
terror of her heart. Her eyes were bluer for the tears, 
as skies are bluer for a sanctifying rain. She rose and 
leaned heavily on the bench. Yet never did she flinch 
from meeting him gaze to gaze. 

328 


THE FIRST OF SAFAR 


Murad;” she spoke in a voice of surpassing 
sweetness, yet with a steady grief that varied not. 
“Murad, the holy Church forbids me to think of any 
man save one. I have sinned against the Church, I 
have sinned against my vows, and sinned against my 
souPs peace. I have sinned without repentance. I 
shall not lie, and say that I am sorry. 

“To my husband I am bound forever. To you I 
can only give what I have given. It is very little ; it 
is all I have. I gave it freely, unconsciously. And 
now — ” she opened her empty arms — “I have given 
all. I have no more.” 

Gabrielle moved from the brownness of the pine- 
tree’s shade, through the silence of the sunlight, until 
she stood beside the fountain. The garden had grown 
desolate. It was dead. The jasmine odors reminded 
her of that stifling sweetness which uprises round the 
dead. 

Murad made no effort to touch or to detain her. 
She passed on a step or two. Then Murad spoke 
harshly, quoting the bitter words of an Eastern poet : 
“ The raven of parting croalcs loud at the door.^^ 

Gabrielle stopped ; she turned upon him a face so 
pinched with agony that Murad was ashamed. He 
caught her by the sleeve and begged, “Forgive me, 
Gabrielle, forgive ; I meant not to make your way the 
harder.” 

“There’s naught to forgive,” she answered in a 
voice which had passed the bounds of suffering. “I 
have all to thank you for — the joy of these weeks, 
the joy of the future.” 

“ The joy — of the future? ” 

“Yes, of the future ; a joy which nothing can take 
from me.” 


329 


GABRIELLE 


They stood in this wise, facing each other, when 
there came a knock on the street door, and the shout, 
‘ ‘ Gabrielle ! Gabrielle ! 

Gabrielle roused herself: ^^It is my father. I 
barred the door. He cannot get in. I must go. I 
must ” 


330 


CHAPTER XXXII 

THE MOON IN SCORPIO 


^ ^ G ABRiELLE ! Gabr ielle ! ’ ’ Grosj ean’ s shout came 
over the wall and reverberated through the garden as 
harsh as the call of the resurrection angel. To the 
woman who obeyed, it marked the end of time, the 
beginning of blank eternity. 

In a sort of stupor Gabrielle ran along the path and 
gained her own side of the wall. 

Gabrielle, where are you?^^ 

She ran through the hall, dragged the oaken bar 
from its socket and let it fall with a clatter. She 
opened the door and sprang out upon her father. 

Here am I. I wanted to see if you would be angry. 
You were so cross at me this morning. 

Gabrielle kissed her father and drew him into the 
hallway. There she dropped her head upon his bosom 
and sobbed. Before Grosj ean had time to wonder, she 
looked up again and laughed, Oh, dear ! what a fool 
I am.^^ 

Grosj ean, discreet man, asked no questions ; women 
and winds give no reasons. “Come,^^ he said; “let 
us go up the stair. We must have a talk.^^ 

“Little woman, he began when they had taken 
their seats together in the room which had been her 
mother^ s, “the governor has advices that the Nar- 
bonne will arrive within the week. She has sailed 
from Havana but will touch at Biloxi. There are 
331 


GABRIELLE 


matters which you should know. We are quite alone 
and can speak without restraint. 

Gabrielle slipped from the divan and seated herself 
upon a hassock at his feet. She leaned upon his knee 
and looked up, making brave pretence of attention. 
It mattered little to her what he said ; she was grateful 
that she would not be obliged to answer. 

“How that you are in such happy spirits/^ Grosjean 
pinched her cheek till the color came, “ I wish to tell 
you of yourself, and of the duties which will fall to 
you in France.” 

Gabrielle tried honestly to listen ; perhaps she did 
hear a few of his words. Grosjean, quite as a matter 
of fact, told her of the proud position she would 
occupy beyond the seas. 

But Gabrielle’ s thoughts strayed backward to the 
garden ; to her there could be no other world. All the 
joy and all the sorrow of the universe were born in the 
garden, and would die in the garden. As one who 
hears a murmur in the distance Gabrielle caught a 
word or two : “Your Uncle Paul-Marie — Due d’ Am- 
blemont- Courtenay — direct line from King Louis the 
Saint. Under this king the banner of the raven 

floated in Palestine ” Gabrielle heard this quite 

distinctly. 

“ Great possessions — ^when he died I inherited 

the title — exiled but without humiliation. Count de 
Tonnay will one day succeed his father as Marquis de 
Fersan ” 

Grosjean talked on and on, stroking her hair and 
patting her cheek. These were merely names to Ga- 
brielle, and did not interest her. Yet she was glad 
he kept on talking, for she could think — think — think. 

Twice or thrice Grosjean attempted to tell Gabrielle 
332 


THE MOON IN SCORPIO 


the reason why he and his brother lived in Louisiana. 
But he had dismally failed to make plain the causes 
of YimonPs death, and he wisely left this task to her 
husband. 

For an hour, perhaps two, Grosjean, Due d’ Amble- 
mont- Courtenay, talked with his daughter, caressing 
her as a father should. 

“Are you not delighted, my Gabrielle, that you shall 
be a duchess and live in a great palace ? 

Gabrielle turned toward him and the cry burst from 
her heart before she was aware, “But I do not want 
to go ; I ” 

“There! There! Rest your head upon my knee 
and tell me. Yes, I know how you dread going into 
the great world. But you will soon grow accustomed 
to it. The court of France is full of pleasures — and 
dangers. Yet ’tis safe enough for my Gabrielle, and 
you will come to love your gallant young soldier — 
never fear.^’ 

Gabrielle buried her face upon that broad breast 
which was so comforting, and sobbed. 

“From all report my Gabrielle is fortunate in hav- 
ing a man of unsullied honor for her husband. I doubt 
if there be another such as De Tonnay near the throne 
of France. Much responsibility will be upon you to 
guard the honor of two such names. Gabrielle burst 
into a controlless weeping, whereat Grosjean drew her 
closer in his arms. 

When she had quieted and was looking out of the 
window with tear-dimmed eyes and aching heart, she 
saw the rising of a storm outside. It came on with a 
sickening oppression that stifled her. She left her 
father and walked to the open window. 

Grosjean watched the girl as she leaned her head 
333 


GABRIELLE 


against the casing. “My own child/ ^ he thought, 
remembering the months he had spent in the woods 
where mankind’s babble could not worry him. Then 
he slipped away so quietly that Gabrielle did not miss 
him. 

Midnight passed and Gabrielle crouched beside the 
window, peering through the panes. The storm roared 
and screamed, lashed the river and wrote its blazing 
wrath across the skies. 

Once, when the lightning flashed, she saw a ship 
passing up the river with topsails set. Gabrielle knew 
enough to be sure it was skilfully handled and would 
safely turn the point into a place of shelter. It was a 
large ship of war, and French, perhaps Murad’s ship. 
Joy ! Joy ! His Mends had come. This she saw in 
the space of a thought. When the lightning flashed 
again the ship was gone. 

After that Gabrielle stared until her eyes grew set. 
Yet she saw nothing. All the while she kept vigil 
upon that inner door lest her father should come in to 
inquire if she feared. Twice Grosjean had come, and 
twice she had been quick enough to reach her bed and 
feign sleep. 

She saw nothing ; she heard nothing. Not a sound 
uprose from earth or wood or river — only the crash of 
breaking branches, the dashing of the waves, the 
incessant artillery of the heavens. 

Another hour passed j Gabrielle stared upon the 
river. She knew there was a river out there some- 
where in that monotone of black. 

Suddenly, and with less of warning than the bolt 
that kills, a fiery chasm zigzagged across the skies, 
while a thunderous convulsion shook the earth. 

334 


THE MOON IN SCORPIO 


Gabrielle shrieked as if she were struck and blinded. 
But Twas not that which wrenched the cry from her 
lips. There — right before her — so close she felt she 
could have put her hands upon it — there was a ship — 
a black ship — a tossing, tumbling ship — ^with every 
spar and rope and bit of rigging sharp drawn against 
the forest by that pitiless glare. The lightning seared 
it upon her eyeballs, and Gabrielle shrieked: “The 
sultan’s ship ! ” 

It was the sultan’s ship, and Gabrielle had recog- 
nized it. 

Grosjean burst into the room : “Gabrielle, did you 
speak ? Are you frightened ? ’ ’ 

“Yes,” she answered from the window. “I was 
frightened — at the lightning. Jean! Jean!” She 
clung to his neck an instant, then cast him from her 
and ran to the window again. She must watch — watch 
— watch. Grogean followed and took her hand. She 
tore herself away : “But I am all right again, indeed 
I am. I must have been very sound asleep. Go back 
to your room. Good- night ! Good-night!” Gabri- 
elle pushed him from the room, then crept to her bed 
and lay down. 

“I shall leave the door ajar,” suggested Grosjean. 

“No, I beg you ; it is no use ; please close it — tight.” 

Grosjean shut the door. 

She immediately bounded to the window again, star- 
ing into the darkness through the pelting rain, staring 
at the blackness of the night. “ I must have imagined 
it,” she said; “I am so weak and nervous.” She 
stopped in the middle of the floor, and thought : “I 
wonder if Jean is asleep.” 

A daring purpose came to Gabrielle, a persistent 
desire which would not be dislodged. She would go 
335 


GABRIELLE 


into the garden, despite the storm and the night. 
Perhaps the lamp was burning in Murad^s window. 
This would reassure her. 

But if Jean should wake and miss her — what? It 
mattered not — nothing mattered. She crept to his 
door and listened. Then to the door in the hall. The 
rain made much noise upon the roof, and the thunder. 

am a fool, a fool,” she kept saying to herself; 
yet she drew the cloak around her, found a pair of 
shoes, and ran down the stair. 

At the hall door she stopped and feared to open it. 
’Twould let in a gust of wind and slam every door in 
the house. Gabrielle went into the kitchen and closed 
it carefully. Then she raised a window and climbed 
out into the night. 

In the darkest hour of the morning the back door 
to Dumb House was cautiously opened. A man’s 
figure, muffled and cloaked, stole into the outer dark- 
ness from the denser black within. He stood upon 
the threshold listening, then whispered to another 
man who was not visible. The door closed and the 
lock clicked. 

It was Murad. He waited in the doorway until 
something fell at his feet from the upper window — 
something heavy wrapped in a piece of white cloth. 
He stooped, picked up the cloth and took out a key 
which he placed in his girdle. Allah keep you, 
Selim,” he said. The window, like the door, was shut. 

After another moment of listening Murad pulled his 
cloak about him and stepped into the storm. With 
head bent before the rushing rain, he ran along the 
path where he knew every bush and shrub. If a rose 
reached out and caught his robe it was the grasp of a 
336 


THE MOON IN SCORPIO 


friend. If the pomegranate brushed his cheek, it was 
in sympathy, and the shedded raindrops were its 
tears. 

Murad pushed on, head down, and paused in front 
of the grapevine, through which Gabrielle always 
came. Here he halted again ; had human beings been 
abroad the storm would not have permitted him to 
hear them. 

Murad parted the vine and disappeared. It was 
his first venture into the path which Gabrielle had 
sanctified. 

He groped about until he found the breach. “ It is 
destiny, ’ ^ he said. ‘ ‘ Love and safety. ^ ’ 

Murad passed through without difficulty. On the 
farther side there was a pile of bricks lying against 
the wall. He replaced them in the breach, fitting 
them as best he could. 

When the hole was closed, Murad rested beneath 
the vines. 


22 


337 


CHAPTER XXXIII 

THE VENGEANCE 


Mobn had almost come. Gabrielle crouched once 
more at her window, with damp hair blown about her 
face, and a dripping cloak that left its trail along the 
floor. A dense black vacancy gaped in front of her 
— a chasm infernal, bottomless and without sides, 
wherein all sense of space was swallowed up. The 
demons of the storm had screamed themselves hoarse, 
and now, whining like whipped curs, they cowered in 
distant corners of the sky. 

The river beat spitefully against the shore, venting 
its resentment on the grass and on the levee. 
Gabrielle raised the sash at intervals, inch by inch, 
so she might look out and see the front of Dumb 
House. But strain her eyes as she might, she saw 
nothing. 

Earnestly and long she sought to descry some 
blacker spot, some deeper shadow which she might 
identify as the ship. Or had she really seen a ship I 
Yes, surely she had seen the sultanas ship. She could 
describe every spar and mast and bit of rigging ; she 
could even distinguish the men tugging at ropes, 
clinging to bulwarks, and striving to stand upon the 
plunging decks. Yet Gabrielle had dreamed so many 
dreams and conjured up so many visions, she had 
come to doubt her own sight. She must wait, wait 
until morn and certainty would come. God of 
338 


THE VENGEANCE 


Patience ! how long must she wait ? Because she was 
a woman must she wait and wait forever, with 
clenched hands and lips struck dumb by guilt? 

Her shoes were muddy and her hair disordered by 
the rain outside — what mattered it ? She must wait. 

Her heart beat on, or stopped as it chose, muffled 
its own terror with a dull convulsion now and then 
which sent the sluggish blood into her finger tips. 
She must wait. 

Her head rested on the window-ledge, and no 
longer ached ; it had forgot to throb and burn. She 
must wait. She no longer listened for her father’s 
waking ; she no longer cared. 

Dawn must come ; night could not cling forever to 
the world. Sometimes she wished the darkness 
would never lift; the day might be so brutally 
frank. 

A thin gray streak began to outline the tree-tops 
beyond the river. The glow began to spill out across 
the water as though the world on the other side were 
overfiowing with soft gray streaks. 

Now she could see the whole bosom of the river. 
It was vacant. There was no black-hulled vessel rid- 
ing at anchor, no sign of that other ship which 
went by hours before. Both those phantoms of the 
night were gone. 

“I must know what has happened,” she mur- 
mured ; I cannot wait.” 

Gabrielle slipped from the room without the 
slightest noise. The gray skirt was wet about her 
ankles, and her cloak hung heavy from its drenching 
of the night. She passed out of her room, pale and 
determined ; she tripped softly down the stair, neither 
foot-beat nor heart-beat giving forth a sound. She 
339 


GABRIELLE 

had no fears about opening the door, for the wind had 
ceased. 

Gabrielle thrust aside the vines on the far side of 
the wall. The mist hung heavy over all, and 
nothing stirred. She gained the path unseen and 
unmolested. 

There she hesitated. Dumb House stood dripping 
in the gloom. The pine-tree reared its crest into the 
clouds. Which way would she go I Surely towards 
the house. Instinct guided her ; it was the habit of 
limb and love to turn towards the fountain. 

For the first time Gabrielle glanced to the ground, 
and terror choked her. The path was trampled and 
torn by the passing of many feet; the hedges were 
broken ; a broad swath ran from the door of Dumb 
House straight through the garden, as though a squad 
of men had marched across. 

There were other footprints farther down the path 
— deeper footprints filled with water. The garden 
had been profaned. Murder had invaded it, and like 
a violated temple the garden held up its altars for day 
and God to view. 

Gabrielle stumbled on in the direction of the foun- 
tain. With a stifled cry she rushed to the turn in the 
path and snatched up a fragment of stuff which had 
caught upon a thorn. It hung in moistened tatters, 
too limp to flutter. She unwound it with fingers 
desperately strong — a part of Murad^s robe. 

A few steps beyond she saw the place where his 
body must have been dragged through the mud. 
Here it had rested. There was a footprint filled with 
diluted blood. 

Gabrielle lifted her skirt to run when she saw 
something glitter beneath a clump of violets. She 
340 


THE VENGEANCE 


stooped, then dropped upon her knees. It was the 
Star of Murad, trampled into the mud. There it lay, 
with broken chain and bended points, but glittering 
and defiant. Gabrielle thrust the cold wet thing into 
her bosom and ran on again. 

She passed the bananas and sped down the last 
little stretch which led to the fouutain. The foot- 
prints grew thicker and centered in the space beneath 
the pine. The ground had been upturned and clods 
of fresh earth were scattered everywhere. Her foot 
slipped in the mud ; she tottered on. Lifting her 
eyes, she gave a cry, and halted, dead still. 

There, beside the pine-tree, were two strangers — 
old men — kneeling in the mud — two men with white 
beards and fiowing robes. Their rich silks dragged 
in the water and dabbled in the mud. Their turbans 
hung limp and flabby. They knelt, facing each other 
a trifling space apart. They rocked to and fro, 
mumbling to themselves. 

Gabrielle had made a noise and cried aloud ; yet 
neither of them turned. They swayed their bodies 
back and forth, moaning a chant, and muttering 
words she could not understand. All of this Gabri- 
elle saw in that twinkle of an eye which changes 
the living to the dead — ^the dead to the living. 

And then ! She saw something more. Holy God ! 
The Vengeance of the Sultan ! 

Between the two men was the tablet of brass. 
There it lay, covering a new-made grave. It had 
traversed the globe to fulfil the sultan’s bloody 
decree. Gabrielle could not read a syllable of its 
inscription, but she knew it well, for Murad had told 
her. 

She staggered forward, pressing her hands against 
341 


GABRIELLE 


lier temples. The two men gave not over their mean- 
ings and lamentations, buffeting their faces and tear- 
ing their beards. Why were they here ? Where did 
they come from ? Gabrielle did not care. 

She pressed between them and stared down at the 
tablet. There were tracks of feet and smudges of 
fingers across it. Drops of dew clung to it, like 
sweat to the brow of the dead. 

Gabrielle stood erect and tearless. It had hap- 
pened. She moaned aloud, joining her voice uncon- 
sciously to the wailing of those mysterious men. Oh, 
Murad ! Murad ! Had I only gone with you— gone to 
the forest, or the seas, — anywhere. Why should I have 

cared? I could have saved you. Now — now 

Her knees gave way ; she fell lengthwise adown the 
tablet, her cheek pressed close against the brass. 

The two men did not stir, though she fell directly 
between them. They swayed back and forth as 
before, and their turbans touched her, one on either 
side. The mist eddied upward. The pine dripped 
its slow residue of rain. The mourners mourned and 
tore their beards, lamenting after the fashion of the 
faithful. Then their chanting ceased. Silence and 
dawn hung above the garden. 

Suddenly from out of the gloom betwixt them and 
Dumb House running steps came spattering through 
the mud. 

When Murad turned the last curve in the path, he, 
like Gabrielle, halted in amazement to see these sway- 
ing figures on the ground. But Hwas not these men 
he sought. 

^‘She has come j I saw her;’’ he spoke aloud. 
Then he saw the gray dress. 

Murad bounded forward, thrusting the men aside 
342 


THE VENGEANCE 


as though they had been clods beneath his feet. He 
knelt beside Gabrielle and raised her on his knee. 
Then he turned like a madman to the others : “ Dogs 
of the dast, give aid.^^ 

Neither of them heeded him. He spoke again — ^he 
shouted. Then the man who had been most violently 
jostled seemed to hear. He glanced dully into 
Murad’s face — stumbled to his feet with a cry of 
terror and disbelief. He gave a sharp exclamation 
in his own tongue. 

Murad answered roughly in the same dialect, 
and called this man by his name, ^^Younan ben 
Efitamous.” 

The other mourner rose in like fashion, but opened 
not his lips. He only stared at Murad. To the 
woman neither of them looked. 

With one accord they prostrated themselves, beat- 
ing their foreheads against the ground, and crawbng 
through the mud to Murad’s feet. 

With his free hand Murad snatched the turban 
from the head of Younan, and smote him. ‘^Eise, 
Younan ; rise, Taleb,” he commanded in that tone 
which no Moslem dared to disobey. 

Instantly they arose, and obedient to Murad’s 
gesture, gave assistance to the girl — for Younan ben 
Efitamous was reckoned a marvellous physician in 
the East. 

Together he and Murad lifted Gabrielle with all 
tenderness to the bench. Murad tore the robe from 
Taleb and folded it beneath her head. She rested 
with her head in Murad’s lap while Younan chafed 
her hands and composed her limbs. At a nod Taleb 
fetched water from the fountain, wetting a cloth, 
wherewith to bathe her temples. 

343 


GABRIELLE 


Murad watched anxiously the expression of that 
older man whose power could bring the dead to life. 
Presently the physician smiled. Then he rose from 
his crouching position beside Gabrielle, and signified 
that all was well. Murad stroked her forehead and 
waited for her to revive. 

The while he spoke hurriedly with Younan and 
Taleb, pointing to the house, the garden, and indicat- 
ing the grave beneath the pine. Selim,’’ he said. 

Younan, with the love of an old man for his 
prince, asked many questions, and Murad told him 
briefiy the state of his case. 

In return Younan by swift words informed his 
master how he had come in the sultan’s ship, A1 
Borak, hoping to use stratagem and delay until 
Tuerto might arrive from Santo Domingo. For of 
this Younan had advices. Yerily the hand of All ah 
hath been made manifest, preserving in His own way 
him whom He had anointed and ordained to empire. 

To all of this Murad gave slight heed, for Gabrielle 
engrossed his thought. 

The other man, who had remained behind with 
Younan, being of humbler station, durst take no part 
in talk between his betters. Taleb drew back as 
befitted his condition. Yet his eyes gave not over 
staring at the prophet who had appeared out of the 
grave whilst they were mourning. He, Taleb, — free 
man of Medina, — ^he was witness to the miracle. 

Gabrielle stirred. Murad owned a skill in surgery 
and knew she must speedily awake. 

He nodded to Younan. It was sufficient. Both 
men prostrated themselves to the earth, withdrew, 
and passed into the Dumb House, casting their eyes 
not backwards upon the privacy of their prince. 

344 


CHAPTER XXXIV 

THE SIN OF GABRIELLE 


The mist had slowly lifted from the garden and 
floated over the wall like smoke. 

Gabrielle lay with her head in Murad^s lap. She 
stirred and moaned. Her eyelids quivered ; breath 
trembled at her lips. A flush crossed her cheeks and 
disappeared. Her bosom fluttered, rose gently, and 
fell. 

Murad stroked her temples and chafed her hands ; 
yet he held his face away, fearing to terrify her when 
she waked. 

She opened her eyes dully and saw nothing but the 
pine-tree’s canopy. Then she closed them again, con- 
tent to rest as she was. “ Gabrielle,” he whispered j 

fruit of my heart; blue flower of paradise ” 

She smiled faintly, as though it were in sleep ; her 
hand crept into his and clasped it. 

^^Sherin of my soul,” — he bent above her and 
spoke exceeding low, jealous of the winds, jealous of 
the mists — “Sherin of my soul, Ferhad, thy lover, is 
not dead, but lives, and lives for thee. Listen, he 
speaks. Allah hath preserved his life and delivered 
it unto thee. His heart is like a lamp which smoul- 
dered in a tomb ; now it blazes when air is given it to 
breathe. Tip, my Gabrielle ! I say unto thee as God 
spake to Mahomet, ‘Verily, were it not for thee the 
heavens had not been created’ I Up ! Up I ” 

345 


GABRIELLE 


Gabrielle lay full length upon the bench, and 
trembled in every limb. Slowly her eyelids unclosed. 
Murad was bending over her and his lips were 
dangerously near. She clasped his hand; it was 
warm and strong and — living. She dared not look ; 
she dared not be sure. She shut her eyes to the 
daylight, and opened her soul to dreams. 

Murad felt the tremor that ran through her body. 
He saw the color creep into her lips, glow on her 
cheek, and tint the alabaster of her eyelids. He felt 
the weight of her head and shoulders lessen in his lap. 
Suddenly she lifted both her arms, wound them round 
his neck and drew herself close against his heart. 

By the sheer strength of her round young arms, 
Gabrielle raised herself into Murad’s bosom. By the 
power of her lithe young body she held herself firm, 
and rested there content. Then, as a weary wanderer 
who has come home at last, arms and head and body 
all relaxed in the blessed security she had won. 

But Gabrielle still hid her face, burying it amongst 
the folds of that foreign garb which had become so 
dear. The sunny tresses of France matted like a veil 
about her forehead ; and the blacker hair of him who 
had suckled at the breast of the sun dropped down 
and mingled with them. Murad held her close, very 
close, and let her have her way of silence. 

Gabrielle wondered at herself — that the madness 
and the thrill of love as she imagined it should be so 
strangely absent. She marvelled that her heart should 
beat so quietly, and that she found a more unquestion- 
ing peace than that which came to her upon the con- 
vent pillow. Mother Louise could not have been 
more comforting than Murad, whose arms kept her so 
very safe, and whose lips kissed her brow. 

346 


THE SIN OF GABRIELLE 


And sweet were the whispers that she heard — whis- 
pers that grew bolder, doubts that became certainty, 
hopes that were welded into possession. 

^^Look up, Gabrielle ! Rejoice with me ! The First 
of Safar has passed. Allah hath granted me life, and 
crowned it with thy love. Exult ! Exult ! Open 
thy brigand eyes, which have plundered me of my 
soul.^^ 

His buoyant voice aroused her as a draught of 
ruddy wine. She sat upright and turned her fear- 
less eyes upon him — dim eyes, glistening eyes, but 
brilliant and unafraid. 

Murad, I had such a frightful dream. I came 
into the garden and thought I saw your grave. Two 
men were sitting beside it. I did not suffer. No. 
My heart was already dead. I looked down upon it, 
then everything went dark and I fell — Gabrielle 
had not yet glanced towards the foot of the pine — I 
fell there, ^ ’ she pointed. ^ ‘ I fell — there ! ^ ^ Gabrielle 
sprang up with a scream, for she pointed at the tablet 
of brass. She shuddered and clung to Murad as if 
some power might wrest him from her again. Her 
eyes searched the garden. 

Where are the two men? I saw them — kneeling 
there — and mumbling ! Two ugly old men — with 
beards? 

“Peace, my Gabrielle ; ” Murad comforted her as a 
lover may. “ Yes, there were two men. I have sent 
them away — into the house. 

He nodded towards the door of Dumb House. 
Gabrielle smiled up into his face, and the peace that 
was Murad^s shone upon her soul. 

“Sit here,’^ he said, leading her to the bench j 
“you should know.’^ Murad stood apart from her, 
347 


GABRTELLE 


alone, his face white with wrath. His slow arm swept 
about him, indicating the trampled herbage, the scat- 
tered dirt, the upturned sod — the tablet. 

“The work of my royal brother — the Vengeance of 
the Sultan. And there lieth Selim— Selim the Sacri- 
fice, who gave himself to die that I and the Cause 
might live. Earth, the Treasurer, hath laid him 
away. Shall I tell you what hap befell us in the 
night ? ’ ^ Gabrielle nodded. 

“The night came on. Selim grew restless. I sat 
at my table and cared not. Selim peered from the 
windows and listened from the doors. Chance so 
willed it that we stood together at the eastern window 
when the lamp of God showed us the murderer’s ship. 
It was my hour. I could not fly. Destiny would be 
fulfilled as well in the forests as in the house. The 
moon was in Scorpio. I could die as a Sherif dies. I 
came to my table and sat. Yet, thinking of you, my 
Gabrielle, there rose in my heart a rebellious desire to 
live, to thwart Destiny by any means. I believed 
then ’twas written that I should die, else, were life 
avouched me you would have shared it.” 

Gabrielle caught her breath. Yes, she had been to 
blame. She knew it. 

“I clad myself in royal robes, placed the Star of 
Murad on my breast, and waited. Selim paced the 
room like a panther, eying me at every turn. He 
stood before me and grasped my shoulder. ' Heed 
me, Murad, thine hour is not come ; the Cause is not 
lost. Allah hath not decreed a crime so monstrous. 
Heed me, Murad ! Men say I resemble thee j I am of 
thy height and figure. My skin is pale as thine from 
biding in this house. Strip those robes — ’ he, SeMm 
the slave, commanded like a king, and I, Murad the 
348 


THE SIN OF GABRIELLE 


Prince Imperial, obeyed him like a slave — ^ Strip 
those robes j thy turban j thy shoes ^ now, thy Star. 
Take these. ^ I clad myself in Selim’s garments. 
Then he bade me go and hide within the garden. ^ I 
have disobeyed thee, Murad,’ he explained j Hhy gold 
and jewels are secreted in the hollow oak. I have 
placed a letter beneath Grosjean’s door, telling him to 
bestow them all upon his daughter, in case we both 
are slain this night.’ 

^ Heed me, Murad ! ’ again he said. ^This is not all 
for thee, despite my great love. It is for the Cause. 
Each man doeth what he can. Should thy life be 
taken, then our lives are but as empty vessels from 
which the wine is spilled.’ We embraced each other. 
Then I came into the garden and Selim threw me the 
key that I might return if fate so ordained. Can you 
guess, my Gabrielle, where it was I hid? ” 

Gabrielle’s eyes lighted. She guessed it. 

‘‘Yes,” he said ; “the breach in the wall that you 
made with your baby hands pointed me to safety. I 
bided the night within your garden.” 

“At what hour did you come?” Gabrielle asked. 

“I know not; perhaps the second hour before 
dawn.” 

“And you went through the wall into our gar- 
den?” 

“Yes,” he answered her. Gabrielle smiled to 
think how very near they must have come to meeting. 
But she settled back on the bench and said nothing, 
her eyes being drawn resistlessly to that tablet of 
brass. 

“And — they murdered Selim — in the night?” she 
asked. 

“Yes, there were perchance as many as five score 
349 


GABRIELLE 


men — I came back through the wall and watched as 
best I could. It was very dark.^^ 

And who were the two men that I saw ? ” 

^^My friends, Younan and Taleb; they came with 
the sultan’s ship, hoping to succor me, but remained 
to lament above my grave.” 

^^Tes, I remember clearly now ; I must have fallen 
between them.” 

“I found you lying there, colder than the brass ; ” 
Murad spoke with a tenderness infinite. I warmed 
you back to life ; I warmed you with my hands, my 
breath, I held you to my bosom. The very warmth 
of your body belongs to me ; it is mine, for I have 
made it.” 

There was silence in the garden. The skies grew 
brighter and the day came on. Murad’s lips trembled 
with the intensity of his thought. 

^‘Gabrielle ! Gabrielle !” Words broke from him 
like maddened horses beyond all control. “Gabrielle, 
it is destiny that you and I were created for each 
other. Though we were born at the ends of the earth 
— though we are enemies in blood, faith and tradition, 
the cords of destiny have bound us together. For 
this did I blindly cast off the follies of my youth. 
For this have I survived the carnage of battle, escaped 
the assassin, passed intrigue and disaster — riding the 
seas and outliving this night of murder. The hand 
of Allah hath stamped our love with the seal of His 
approbation. And you? You have grown here in 
this garden, a lone white lily, knowing naught of 
other men, waiting for me. The Power that set the 
moon in the heavens hath made the tides of your 
blood to ebb and fiow for me alone ; the Power that 
lighted the sun and bade the comets feed it, hath 
350 


THE SIN OF GABRIELLE 

lighted a fire at the altar of thy heart and bade me to 
keep it living. That Power hath put your hand in 
mine, hath pressed your bosom unto me, and laid 
us lip to lip forever. Come, Gabrielle, let us be 
gone.^^ 

The crimson flooded into Gabrielle’ s cheeks and 
abided there. With one quick movement she brushed 
her tangled hair from temples and from brow. Never 
had she looked so fresh and girlish, so radiant with 
delicious coloring. Love brought back the beauty of 
which those sleepless nights had robbed her. 

Murad looked down upon her. Then of a sudden 
he stooped, kissed her forehead and sprang up again. 
^‘Destiny hath struck its shackles from me,” he cried 
aloud ; I am free ! ” 

Gabrielle watched him wonderingly, for he ran like 
a mad creature to the foot of the pine and stood upon 
the brazen tablet. With one hand he pointed down- 
ward, the other he uplifted to the eternal stars. His 
voice rang clear and shrill in a shout of triumph : 

‘ ^ Hear me, Gabrielle ! My riddle is solved, my 
fetters are burst. In this grave lies buried the Prince 
Imperial. Henceforth I am a man like other men — I 
am free ! ” His eyes glittered feverishly ; his voice 
sounded like the blast from a victorious trumpet. He 
was the Murad of old, the Firebrand of the embattled 
field — the last hope of Islam in the hour of disaster. 
And he shouted to Gabrielle the same wild shout 
which thrilled their beaten hosts with courage. 
Gabrielle sprang up, her heart beating wildly, and 
her dazzled eyes fastened upon his slightest motion. 

Listen, Gabrielle, listen ! ” He came towards her 
as though he were a panther crouching for a spring. 
Gabrielle faced him, the blood raging in her veins, 
351 


GABRIELLE 


tingling at her finger tips, and pausing to stamp a 
riper color on her cheeks. 

^^Gabrielle, my ship is coming, with war-tried 
veterans aboard, of whom I am the master — Swords 
of Allah, holding the keys of heaven and hell. Shall 
they bear me back to a distracted land, red with 
murder and black with fire’s trail? There shall be 
battles and slaughter — then — the Throne of Mahomet, 
for ’tis decreed.” 

Gabrielle’s heart turned to lead within her ; she 
saw the light of battle and not the glint of love in 
Murad’s eyes. 

Then his tone changed. He moved closer. ^ ‘ What 
care I for the sultans and the kings who have gone 
before me ? Their mouths are stopt with dust. What 
care I for the Prophet’s promises? His promises are 
There, and they are lies. But you, Gabrielle, you are 
Here, and you are the truth. Listen. 

‘‘In the far Arabian desert is the sunken paradise 
of Irem. There lieth the city whose mosques and 
minarets are of gold, whose streets are white and 
desolate, for no living thing is there to tread them. 
Even the rivers that run thereout are drunk up and 
lost in the famished sands. No man hath yet attained 
this paradise, none has lived within that wonder city. 
Until this day there has been no Prince of Fortune’s 
Cavalier, as you have made of me, my Gabrielle. You 
and I shall attain it. Bagdad to lovers is not far. 
Allah hath reserved it for us since the birth of ages. 
I shall transport you in the night from this garden 
unto that other paradise, even as the Afrit trans- 
ported Bedreddin Hassan from Bassora unto Cairo. 
Dead you shall be to your kith and kin, whilst the 
Prince Imperial lies buried beneath this plate of 
352 


THE SIN OF GABRIELLE 


brass. You and I shall make the world anew. Come, 
my Gabrielle.” 

Murad quivered with the most violent excitement. 
He held out his arms to Gabrielle. 

Let us go. Let us drink at the square pond of the 
Prophet, whose waters are whiter than milk. Let us 
sit beneath the tuba-tree, whose branches bend and 
set its fruits before us. Beautiful youths shall meet 
us at the gate, appointed to wait upon us. There 
shall we live, always at thirty years, for love grows 
no older. And we shall listen to the ravishing songs 
of Israfel, whose melody is the most wonderful of all 
God’s creatures. Come, Gabrielle.” 

He spoke almost as she had heard him when the 
fever-madness came, and Gabrielle feared. Murad 
saw this, and quieted as though she had laid her hand 
upon him. 

Gabrielle,” he said in a tone more gentle, “there 
be other countries to the south bearing good report, 
fair lands and high mountains and beautiful rivers. 
Thither could we go, you and I together, and make a 
paradise.” Murad spoke quite calmly of these plans 
which for weeks had filled his mind. 

“In those countries there be none of your people, 
and none of mine. You and I should be lost to all 
others. I have wealth, jewels and gold, beyond the 
treasures of many kings. Come, Gabrielle.” 

For some while the blood had been fading from 
Gabrielle’ s cheeks, leaving them intensely white. She 
stood erect and let go the hand upon the bench which 
had half supported her. She advanced a step towards 
Murad. 

At the first opening of Gabrielle’ s lips, Murad 
seemed to hear again the tinkle of the temple bells, 

23 353 


GABRIELLE 


calling him to his faraway land. He heard the 
murmur of waters purified. 

“ Murad, she said, ^^you ask of me that which 
you would not have me do. Would you in one 
moment undo the work of months? Yes, the work of 
a lifetime — for these weeks in the garden have been 
all of life to me. You have taught me everything I 
know 5 you have taught me the purity that comes 
from a strong heart like yours — not from an ignorant 
one like mine. You taught the lesson — I learned it.’^ 

Gabrielle’s voice rose, and as she advanced Murad 
gave back before her. She pointed fearlessly to the 
plate of brass: ^^No, Murad, the Prince Imperial 
does not lie buried there. You do not mean it — that 
would be the lie of a coward. He is not dead, his 
duties have not been discharged. Selim gave his life 
in exchange for yours, that you might carry forward 
the Cause to which God ordained yon. Selim cleared 
the trail, you shall march along it.” Gabrielle’s voice 
wavered and broke ; she pleaded — weak, irresolute 
woman that she was. 

Oh, Murad, do not tempt me with a love that is of 
the earth. This frail and wicked body of mine — you 
may take it where you will, there is naught to hinder 
you. But you would destroy all that is sweetest in 
our love. 

Jean spoke of my ^ honor’; I care not for that, it 
is but a word. The pride of my name is nothing — I 
heard that name only yesterday. Love has been mine 
forever. Religion? You are my religion. My hope 
of heaven? I’d give it freely to go with you into a 

hovel or a desert Back ! Murad, stop, for the 

sake of God ! Yes, I mean that, and more — more than 
you can understand. Myself I would gladly give, but 
354 


THE SIN OF GABRIELLE 


you I cannot sacrifice. You shall go back to your 
country, and go alone ; in no other way can you 
accomplish that which is written. 

Murad stood as a man who has slowly turned to 
stone. He did not move as she approached. She 
held out her arms, and her voice fell to a whisper: 

These poor weak arms of mine clinging at your 
neck would be a clog to drag you down. The love 
you give to me would turn your people from you — 
would destroy you. Nay, do not shake your head ; 
it was you who told me that. It was you who told 
me all things. 

^ ‘ I can bear the thought of Jean biding here alone 
and cursing his dishonored daughter’s memory. 
Mother Louise would strike my name from her list 
of pupils, my Church would cast me out — I could 
smile at that. My family name would be dragged in 
the dust, my husband hurt past the healing. I should 

be sorry, but that would not hinder me ” 

Do you — not — ^love me ? ’ ’ 

^^Love you? Why should I not? God planted 
love in my heart before I was aware. It is not 
wicked. It grew and grew until my heart became 
too small to hold it. It glorified this garden, it over- 
flowed the world, and climbed into the heavens. 
’Twas the love of my soul, Murad. Let it be — 
stainless.” 

She drew him to her gently. She kissed his hands ; 
she kissed his temples 5 and last of all she kissed his 
lips. Then Gabrielle reached into her bosom and 
took out the Star with its broken chain. He suffered 
her to twine it round his neck, with the warmth of 
her breast clinging to it. 

^‘Now, Murad, go. I send you, pure-hearted, to 
355 


GABRIELLE 


your destiny. Go, Murad j let me keep my love j do 
not take it from me — it is all I have. If it be sinful 
to love you and to kiss you, the sin has been in my 
heart for many weeks. Let me keep it there to dream 
upon.^^ 

Murad stood before her, dumb and unmoving, while 
Gabrielle spoke on : 

Shall I repent this wickedness of mine? No, 
dear one, not if salvation were the price. I shall 
glory in it ; I shall hoard it. I should boast 
of it were not the sin too sacred. Why do you 
look at me so? Of what are you thinking? Yes, I 
know.’^ 

They stood apart in silence, but Gabrielle under- 
stood his thought. She looked at him steadily, and 
made the promise : ‘^No other man shall ever touch 
my lips. This day I return to the convent. Our 
dear Christ will forgive this sin of mine even though 
I do not repent. He knows I cannot be sorry. I 
give my life to Him forever, after you are gone. I 
shall be the proudest, happiest woman who has ever 
lived in the world. 

^ ^ Happy ? ’ ’ His words came hollower than an echo. 

Happy ? ” 

“ Yes, happy j proud and happy. Have I not rested 
in your arms and kissed your lips ? I shall clasp to 
my bosom this precious sin of your love — all my own. 
Nothing can take it from me. I shall remember your 
kisses in the murmur of my prayers. In the holiest 
music I shall hear your voice, and be not ashamed. 
You shall be mine, forever and forever. Murad! 
you have glorified me.’^ 

Even as she spoke the sun uprose above the eastern 
wall. Its first brilliant shaft, straight as a lance on 
356 


THE SIN OF GABRIELLE 


rushing charger borne, struck Gabrielle fairly across 
her brow. 

She stood boldly upright, pale and pure, a woman 
glorified. And she lifted her clear blue eyes to meet 
the coming day. 


367 


CHAPTER XXXV 

THE WOMAN GLORIFIED 


The level rays of the sun fell across Murad and 
Gabrielle. Murad^s face rested in shadow, and Gabri- 
elle’s gloried in the shine. “This is left me,^^ he said, 
touching the hilt of his scimitar; “I shall draw it in 
no impious quarrel.’^ 

Murad lifted his head proudly ; his blade flashed in 
the sunlight. From that he looked to Gabrielle ; the 
steel was not bluer than her eyes, or steadier. Murad 
came closer and raised the hilt to Gabrielle’ s lips. 
She kissed the jewels which his hand would grasp in 
day of battle. 

Gabrielle did not speak, or move, or shift her eyes 
to avoid the rising sun. It was the end of all things. 

Murad turned. Never before had he left Gabrielle 
in the garden ; it was always she who went and he that 
remained. Many times had Murad faced danger and 
death, but his step faltered as he passed the grapevine. 
He drove himself forward like a slave beneath the 
goad. With his thoughts lagging behind him, Murad 
did not hear the noises in the house, the scuffling of 
feet and the murmur of voices. 

The door was closed. It was thrown violently open 
as Murad reached the dial. Through the hall he could 
see the front door standing open likewise, and the hall 
was full of men. Like a billow they surged along the 
narrow passage — a billow of tumbling turbans tipped 
358 


THE WOMAN GLORIFIED 


with steel, for here and there a curving scimitar sprang 
like a tongue of spray into the air. 

Tounan and Taleb strove to stem the tide. Murad 
saw his two friends shoved aside by a tall broad- 
shouldered Frenchman who, sword in hand, led the 
onslaught upon the garden. Out of the door they 
burst like a pent-up torrent that widens as it strikes 
the plain. At first Murad saw nothing except a 
writhing mass of turbans and scimitars, of swarthy 
faces and wild black eyes. He heard their triumphant 
shout when they sighted him. 

Murad halted. The path was narrow; Gabrielle 
was behind him, and his blade was in his hand. The 
Frenchman darted forward and raised his rapier, a 
glad cry on his lips : Murad ! he shouted. 

^^Back, Raymond. Back Murad commanded so 
sharp and clear that De Tonnay stopped. 

''El Prophet!'' 

"Son of the Star ! " 

Their shouts filled the garden, and two score blades 
glistened in the sun. Murad lifted his hand, crying 
aloud — one quick word in a strange tongue. 

"Sword of Allah!" ejaculated El Tuerto. The 
one-eyed hero of an hundred battles prostrated himself 
upon the ground before his prince, as did all the 
others. The storm of turbans sank into a docile sea. 

De Tonnay stood alone. He stared backward at 
this throng of gaunt and weather-beaten warriors 
kneeling with their foreheads to the earth. No less 
wonderingly did he regard the pale-faced youth who 
did not even smile upon, or greet them. 

El Tuerto, grizzled and grim, lifted the fierceness of 
his solitary eye: "There is no God but God, and 
Mahomet is his Prophet. Praise to the Prophet." 

369 



GABRIELLE 


Murad turned from the prostrate men and glanced 
behind him. 

Gabrielle stood unmoving beneath the pine. 

“Murad ! ” De Tonnay cried, and rushed forward to 
embrace him. 

Murad blocked the path. His steel gleamed menac- 
ingly. De Tonnay gave back and marvelled. 

One peremptory syllable came from Murad, keen as 
the crack of a whip. Those desert tribesmen bounded 
to their feet. Another word — they wheeled and 
marched into the open door of Dumb House. 

“Let us go within, my Raymond,’^ said Murad, 
taking De Tonnay by the arm. Murad drew his friend 
into the hall, locked the door and stuck the key in his 
girdle. Then he hurried up the stair and shut the 
window which looked out upon the garden. Gabrielle 
yet stood beneath the pine. 

Murad hastened to those windows which fronted the 
river and threw them all wide-open. Concealment 
was at an end. 

For a moment he stood gazing upon the powerful 
ship whose decks swarmed with friends. A group of 
Tartar fighting-men lounged along the levee, viewing 
this new land with the calm possession of men who if 
they chose would take it for their own. Had not their 
banners overrun the world ? 

Raymond de Tonnay followed Murad up the stair, 
at a loss to account for his strange behavior. But 
none who wore the turban dared intrude upon their 
lord. 

Murad came from the window and took De Tonnay 
in his arms. “My friend ! My comrade ! he said, 
holding him at full arm’s length to look into his face. 

“I joined them at Santo Domingo — with the other 
360 


THE WOMAN GLORIFIED 


freebooters.’^ De Tonnay laughed, as he answered the 
unspoken inquiry. ^^I had affairs in Louisiana,” he 
further explained. 

“I thought as much,” Murad replied. 

Then the suppressed and fevered energy of the East 
burst forth. Murad loosed himself from De Tonnay 
and shouted from the head of the stair, which sum- 
moned his warriors. 

Up the stair they came like mountain cats from 
Arabia Petrea — men whose house is the rock, whose 
camp the torrent bed. They prostrated themselves in 
a circle round their chief. 

Murad raised the veteran El Tuerto and kissed him 
on either cheek. ^^My father,” he whispered, which 
gladdened the old man’s heart with the pride of a 
lion for his royal whelp. At a word every man about 
him sprang up, making himself free as in the tent of a 
hospitable friend. Murad passed amongst them, pat- 
ting their shoulders, and calling them affectionately 
by name, and speaking of the battles they had fought 
together. His eyes shone strangely j the star upon his 
breast burned with living flames. 

Presently he smiled, stepped back, and twirling his 
scimitar above his head gave a most peculiar cry — a 
cry so wild and desperate it seemed to come from an 
animal with its back against the wall. Throat after 
throat answered him — ^the cry of the Meccan desert ; 
sons of the rock parted their passionate lips — Tartar 
chieftains shouted that unforgotten cry which had 
sounded through the forum of fallen Rome. It was 
the cry of wander-lust and murder-lust and plunder- 
lust — the cry of tameless ages of man by man de- 
stroyed — the cry of the only beast that preys upon its 
kind. 


361 


GABRIELLE 


The walls of Dumb House shuddered at the cry — 
such a cry as was never before nor ever since, and 
never again shall be — the cry of a barbaric past upon 
the shores of a no less barbaric future. Down sank 
its mumbling and its murmuring, and died in fi?ighted 
silence. 

Then rose a cry from Murad, the cry of his single 
throat, the defiance of his single scimitar. It thrilled 
and tingled in the veins of those bearded men — that 
cry which upon a losing field had been worth a 
thousand brawny arms. 

Instant they rallied like tigers, men of the desert 
and the rocks— joining their voices unto his. They 
formed about him right and left, swinging their blades 
until a wall of steel defended the sacred person of 
their prince. Smilingly Murad lifted his hand ; they 
were at peace. 

De Tonnay stood dumbfounded, learning a new 
lesson in battle-madness. As he glanced into Mu- 
rad^ s transfigured face he comprehended that power 
over other men with which the legends of the East 
endowed him. 

Murad laughed, and that right joyously, as he bade 
his men give back. Raymond, these are my turtle- 
doves,^^ he said, good-humoredly. “ It has been long 
since I have listened to their cooing.’^ 

The Moslems separated and moved about the room 
as they chose ; the mood of their prince had changed. 
Now he was their friend, and all were equal. 

Tuerto spoke bluntly in their own tongue. Murad^s 
eyes blazed; he answered with a terse monosyllable. 
Tuerto gave command. Four of the men disappeared. 
Murad indicated a dozen whom he desired to remain. 
The others filed down the stair and went out at the 
862 


THE WOMAN GLORIFIED 


front, forming round the door. Curious townspeople 
were beginning to peer inside. 

Murad gave brief instructions as to the taking down 
of his canopies, the packing of his instruments, the 
folding of his rugs. Then he passed out, and into the 
garden. 

Gabrielle was gone — he desired to be sure. Murad 
called half a dozen men and led them through the 
peace of the garden to the grave beneath the pine. 
“To the ship,’^ he said, and pointed at the tablet. 
Four men bore it away. The ground was levelled and 
strewn with needles of the pine. Murad glanced 
upward at the stately tree: “Allah planted it for 
Selim. 

Under his direction the men gathered his treasure 
from the hiding-place where Selim had secreted it. 
As one of them passed, Murad stopped him, opened a 
packet and took from it a cross of rubies. “ It is 
the symbol of her religion, he said to himself ; 
“she shall wear it.^^ This done, he waved the men 
to leave him alone in the desolate and desecrated 
garden. 

“No,” he shook his head 5 “ what is done is done.” 
He did not sit upon the bench, did not gaze into the 
fountain ; nor did he pause beside the curtain of the 
vines. 

When Murad re-entered Dumb House he met 
Grosjean hurrying through the hall. “What means 
this?” Grosjean questioned. 

“My ship has come j we sail to-day — within the 
hour if that be possible.” 

Grosjean caught Murad by the hand and wrung 
it silently: “Have you need of friends? I shall 
go ” 

363 


GABRIELLE 


; not you. Your duty is to her — the daughter 
of whom you spoke. 

“ It is true. God speed you.^^ 

‘^Let us go to the governor together/^ suggested 
Murad; owe him much of thanks. Pardon me 
until I set these lazy fellows to their work.’^ Murad 
went up the stair and pointed his men to the articles 
which were to be carried aboard the ship. Twenty 
pairs of stalwart arms made short shrift of this work, 
and left the chambers of Dumb House empty as he 
found them. 

Within an hour Murad returned from Government 
House with Grosjean. Four Indians ran their pirogue 
ashore and intercepted them. 

One of them called to Grosjean in his guttural 
dialect. Grosjean stopped and held brief parley with 
the man. Several times the Indian nodded towards 
Murad’s peculiar dress. 

When Grosjean came on again and joined Murad he 
said, The Indian brings word of a ship that has run 
on a bar some eight leagues below. He says the men 
are dressed like yourself. They must be your friends 
— we shall send them succor at once.” 

“No, let them be,” Murad answered in such 
manner that Grosjean asked no further questions. 

Murad strode along the faster, his hand seeking the 
hilt of his scimitar. 

At a respectful distance followed many colonials 
before whom these foreigners had fallen from the 
skies. The French officers gathered in groups, 
discussing the Prince Imperial and his romantic 
fortunes. Some of them were acquainted with 
Murad’s history, for there had been much gossip in 
Paris. 


364 


THE WOMAN GLORIFIED 


Grosjean heeded neither the people nor the officers. 
He walked straight on, and though Murad’s mind was 
busy with his plan concerning the sultan’s ship, yet 
he paused in front of Grosjean’ s door hoping he might 
be invited to enter. But Grosjean held his pace 
unabated and vanished with Murad into Dumb House. 

Your daughter,” Murad said ; ^^she of whom you 
told me — give her this — from your guest.” 

Grosjean glanced at the splendid cross which 
Murad pressed into his palm. “No ; ” he drew back 
astonished ; the rubies were worth a province. 

“Nay, my friend, it was stolen from the Christians 
and has lain in my father’s treasury many years. I 
came not by it honestly, and do but restore it to its 
own people. Take this for the convent,” he touched 
with his foot a bag which rested in the corner. 
“And this, this is for you.” Murad bestowed his 
ring upon Grosjean, a gift of trifling value. 

“Your grateful friend,” he said, “has worn this 
since he came to manhood. Perchance it may recall 
him when he is gone.” 

“Murad! Oh Murad!” De Tonnay cried as he 
stepped into the door, for it was darker, and he could 
not see. “Ah, I thought you had entered here.” To 
Grosjean he did not speak, except by a courteous 
inclination of the head. Murad divined that the men 
were strangers. 

“Permit me,” he said 5 “this is my old comrade, 

Raymond de Tonnay — Grosjean ” Murad spoke 

the word hesitantly. 

De Tonnay grasped the other’s hand. “Your 
Grace, I crave pardon. I have been in Louisiana 
but an hour, and, being much occupied with Murad’s 
affair, have neglected my own.” 

365 


GABRIELLE 


Murad listened to their interchange of compli- 
ments, but their words entered not his mind. This 
was Gabrielle’s husband — that was all he could 
think. The clown who owned a jewel was not 
less conscious of its value than was Raymond de 
Tonnay. 

An hour slipped by, two hours. Murad’s warship 
rocked impatiently on the river whilst the boats were 
filling her casks with water. 

Yet when all was done and everything was ready 
for departure, Murad remained in the house. He 
walked again in the ravished garden, hoping against 
hope that Gabrielle might come. 

Then he remembered seeing two women in convent 
garb come together to the house of Grosjean. One, of 
majestic port, he guessed to be Mother Louise. 

Gabrielle will come no more,” he said, and he 
left the garden forever. 

Tuerto the one-eyed, Tuerto the fierce, had trod on 
coals since Murad whispered to him the sultan’s ship 
had gone ashore. The chance of such a capture 
thrilled his revengeful soul. The ground became too 
hot for him to stand in one place. Murad had not 
commanded Tuerto not to stride up and down in front 
like a jaguar. 

Murad stepped out of Dumb House, his features 
rigid as Tuerto had often seen them on the eve of 
desperate encounter. He nodded. 

Tuerto’ s solitary eye flashed back its fiery thanks, 
and passed the order to his admiral, Malec E^adir 
ben Ibrahim. 

Boats hurried back and forth. Row but one waited 
at the water-line, to take their prince aboard. 

366 


THE WOMAN GLORIFIED 


Grosjean and De Tonnay walked with him to the 
crest of the levee. There Murad stopped. 

Out of Grosjean’ s door came three women. One 
was Gabrielle — the others did not matter. She 
walked buoyantly between the others. Her face was 
pale, but even at that distance Murad felt the glory 
shining from her eyes. A mad desire seized him — to 
bear Gabrielle by force aboard his ship. He looked 
at her again. She wore the ruby cross upon her 
breast, and his thought shamed him. 

“Let us wait, good mother,” she saidj “ ’tis a 
brave sight to witness the sailing of a ship.” Murad 
saw her look into the mother’s face and meet a smile 
of perfect comprehension. He knew that the woman 
of God understood the woman of the garden. 

^ ^ Whither, my daughter ? ” Grosjean called. 

“To the convent, with Mother Louise,” she 
answered him steadily 5 “ you will come there when 
the ship is gone ; I would speak with you.” 

Gabrielle watched Murad embrace her father and 
De Tonnay, then step into the boat. The rasp of oars 
wrenched at her heart. She watched the boat as it 
went, and saw him climb aboard the ship. 

Mother Louise put an arm around the girl. And 
Gabrielle, with Murad’s kiss upon her lips, set her 
face towards the convent. 


367 


CHAPTER XXXVI 

THE DESTINY OF MURAD 


^‘The Indian spoke truly. Malec ben Ibrahim 
handed the ship^s glass to Tuerto. ‘Ht is A1 Borak.’^ 
The admiral and Tuerto kept their eyes upon a ship 
whose upper spars were visible above the forest where 
the river curved. A bit of canvas, sufficient to 
steady her, showed itself from A1 Borak’s topmost 
peak ; otherwise her rigging was quite bare. 

Three men were in the prow of the Firebrand — as 
Murad’s ship had been re-christened — signifying their 
purpose to set the East ablaze. Malec and Tuerto 
stood, the admiral using his glass, Tuerto using his 
single eye. Murad sat negligently in a chair, watch- 
ing the delicate tracery of spars outlined against the 
blue, as though it were the web of some gigantic 
spider of the skies. He gazed across the tree-tops, 
admiring the blue serenity, and listened as Tuerto 
and Malec planned destruction for A1 Borak. 

^‘She lies against the farther shore,” said Malec, 
where the current sets. ’Twas that which drove 
her on the bar. When we round this bend the wind 
will come behind us ; it could not be better.” 

Tuerto, the Gray Fox, lent his cunning to their 
stratagem. They summoned Denfert, Tournon, and 
the Chevalier de Senlis— De Senlis having much 
experience of the seas. 

Five minutes is over-long for men who know their 
368 


THE DESTINY OF MURAD 


trade. De Senlis was placed in apparent command 
of the ship, and the flag of France floated from her 
poop. 

Every Moslem vanished. Every turban and tunic 
and scimitar hid itself away; scabbardless they 
waited, with bared arms and ready limbs. 

Buccaneers manned the ship, as seamen at their 
ordinary duties. Their weapons lay beneath coils of 
rope, under gun-carriages, and in the shadow of the 
gunwales. Behind the port-holes, ready to open on 
the instant, threatened the double-shotted guns. 

^^We shall come alongside as if to give her aid,’^ 
said Malec ben Ibrahim; “then grapple her, send a 
broadside by way of courtesy — and three hundred 
boarders. 

Tuerto concealed his Moslems in the companion- 
ways and behind the cabin doors, like a loose 
avalanche hanging against the mountain side. 

“Come,” said Malec to Murad; “let us to our 
cabin. There must be no turban or robe in view 
when we round yonder point.” Murad followed 
without a word ; he saw the arrangements, and 
nodded that they were good. 

The decks were clear of Moslems. Gunners stood 
ready watching De Senlis. The buccaneers, divided 
into two parties, were to be led by Denfert and 
Tournon. After them would come Tuerto and the 
turtle-doves of Murad. 

Murad went to his cabin on the port side of 
the ship. The bustle of preparation ceased. Men 
stopped their running to and fro. Every tongue was 
still. A scintillating silence sparkled on the river ; a 
silence sinister and sullen, overhung the ship. 

The Firebrand hugged the right bank of the river. 

24 369 


GABRIELLE 


She rounded the bend, and a steady current bore her 
diagonally across, just as in the early hours of the 
morning it had borne the luckless A1 Borak. 

Murad from his station at the port-hole could see 
A1 Borak plainly. She rested on an even keel, and 
quite in mid-stream, such is the treacherous nature of 
these sand-bars that form in unexpected places. 
When the Firebrand hove in sight A1 Borak’ s boats 
abandoned their soundings of the channel, and the 
ship hoisted signals of distress. 

A transverse current hurried the Firebrand along 
as though she were a chip, directly towards AJ 
Borak. Tuerto grasped his scimitar ; it seemed they 
must likewise go ashore. But the pilot held confi- 
dently to the wheel ; he knew the bottom of this 
river as he knew the fioor of his own hut, and had 
assured Malec that he could trim the edge of that bar 
as a knife trims the skin from a peach. 

Murad heard A1 Borak’ s call for a cable ; he heard 
the polite parley between De Senlis and her first 
officer ; he saw those half-naked and weaponless men 
in her boats ; he noted the unguarded condition of 
her decks. Murad smiled. 

Then he ceased to smile. His lips clenched tighter 
than a thumbscrew, i^'ear the mast he saw Yazan, 
the sultan’s chamberlain — Yazan, who was keeper of 
the bowstring — ^Yazan, who had strangled Hassan in 
the prison, and who had doubtless performed the 
same murderous duty for Selim. Murad could not 
look upon Yazan and smile. 

On either side the chamberlain stood two Moorish 
slaves — four in all — giants selected for their stupid 
ferocity. Murad knew them well. There were Khaled 
and Kaifour, motionless upon his right — Mozdar and 
370 


THE DESTINY OF MURAD 


Amru upon his left. The same four had flanked the 
chamberlain when he stood above Hassan’s body in 
the Caucasus prison. All wore their arms ; not one 
dared trust himself unarmed. 

Behind this group, but apart from them, Murad 
saw perhaps a hundred men, common sailors, petty 
officers, and flghting-men. Though he gazed with 
intensest hatred upon the chamberlain, Murad pitied 
those other creatures. Misguided children, he 
said ; they know no better.’^ 

The Firebrand was slowly approaching. Her ports 
were closed, though the gunners watched De Senlis for 
the word. Others held the grappling-hooks at hand, 
ready to bind A1 Borak in the clutch of death. A 
dozen pairs of hands reached out from A1 Borak^s 
gunwales to grasp the succoring cable of the French. 

The pilot made good his boast. The Firebrand 
barely grazed A1 Borak, and her prow crept along 
the other vessePs side. Murad watched the two ships 
and formed a sudden resolution — one of those mad 
freaks whose audacity had proven their success. 

He darted out of his cabin and tossed his robe 
aside. Beneath it he wore a tight-fltting vestment of 
white. The Star of Murad blazed on his breast. Like 
a flash of light he crossed the deck and sprang upon a 
gun. “Hold your Are,” he said to De Senlis, who was 
too astonished to stop him. 

For a moment Murad’s scimitar glittered in the 
sunlight. Then he vaulted aboard A1 Borak, 
alighting face to face with Yazan. 

The vessels grappled. A1 Borak reeled, and shud- 
dered as in the jaws of a devouring monster. 

“Down, Yazan, down ! ” Murad shouted. “Down 
like a dog ! ” 


371 


GABRIELLE 


Tazan stared incredulously — ^hesitated — wavered — 
then Murad struck him. He fell, whether dead or no 
Murad took no thought. 

“DownKhaled! DownKaifour! Mozdar ! Amru, 
down!’^ The slaves dropped upon their knees and 
grovelled, beating their foreheads against the deck. 

Murad planted his foot on Yazan and shouted the 
same shrill cry which had thrilled the walls of Dumb 
House. 

Scattered warriors on A1 Borak stopped as though 
they’d heard a call from heaven ; they wheeled and 
looked to Murad, as the faithful turn their eyes to 
Mecca. For one unbelieving instant they stood dazed 
and dumb, not crediting their senses. Murad’s shout 
rang out again, the rallying cry of undaunted Islam. 
Fierce and deep and strong came the answer from 
every corner of the sultan’s ship. Throat after throat 
caught up the cry — man after man obeyed it. 

They gathered round him, some with lifted blades, 
some with blades in sheath, some with empty hands. 
As they were, they came. 

Yainly the officers of A1 Borak strove to stem the 
tide of their defection. At the first shout Murad’s 
rushing turtle-doves had come to join him, but found 
no work to do. A1 Borak was already his. 

^^Bind the officers, and these,” Murad ordered, 
kicking one of the four. Let the others be.” 

Tuerto, outstripped by younger limbs, was not the 
first to gain Murad’s side. His eye flamed ; he had 
struck no blow. 

Murad sought to pacify him : ^^Al Borak is yours,” 
he said, touching the veteran upon the shoulder ; 
‘‘you shall turn her guns upon False Mahomet in his 
palace. Stay, Tuerto, this is my flagship. Tear 
372 


THE DESTINY OF MURAD 


down that ensign.’^ Willing hands drew the sul- 
tanas emblem to the deck, and delirious men stamped 
upon it. 

Murad opened his vestments and unwound a cloth 
from his middle. It was a banner of white, and bore 
for device a Raven, with outspread wings. 

^^Fly this,’’ he ordered; ^4t is a talisman of 
victory.” 

A scream of triumph rose from the multitude as the 
mystic banner fluttered upward and unfurled itself 
upon the breeze. The huge black Raven opened his 
wings, and flapped above their heads. 

^ ‘ An omen ! An omen ! He shall have meat in 
Stambonl.” 

Then there happened a marvel, a miracle the 
wonder of which was narrated in the remotest tent of 
Islam. Five hundred faithful stood vouchers for its 
truth. It was this, as breathless they told it : 

When the Firebrand came alongside, A1 Borak was 
fast aground : Murad sprang aboard and she trembled 
beneath his foot. Whilst A1 Borak flew the sultan’s 
flag she stood steadfast as a mosque upon a mountain. 
These facts were true, beyond all cavil. 

Yet, at the very instant the Banner of the Raven 
soared aloft — when the Raven flapped his wings and 
took flight towards the East — A1 Borak shook her- 
self violently, then slipped like a swan into the mid- 
most channel of the river. For behold ! she bore the 
anointed Prince of Destiny. 

The midday sun shone down on Murad’s face, 
upturned and glorified. The clamorers hushed as he 
lifted his eyes towards the Raven. They listened. 

His lips scarcely breathed the word, that word 
which no man understood, which the gods had given 
373 


GABRIELLE 


unto him alone : Gabrielle,’’ he whispered unto the 
banner 5 ^‘Gabrielle ! 

His nearest warriors caught up the word of magic 
paramount: “Gabrielle ! they shouted, until the 
woods, the river, and the skies answered them again. 

‘^Gabrielle they shouted again in the flush of 
triumph when False Mahomet tottered from his 
throne. 

****** 

“Gabrielle! Gabrielle!’^ they shouted in the 
reverence of their love, when they set the Crown of 
Mam firmly upon Murad’s brow — the Prince of 
Destiny. 

And none save Murad knew the fulness of its 
meaning. 


THE END 




374 




THE DASHING NOVEL 

THE 

COLONEL 
or THE 
RED HUZZARS 

By 

JOHN REED SCOTT 


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lUmtrationf in Colon by CLARENCE F. UNDERWOOD 
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THE RAVANELS 

By HARRIS DICKSON 
With four illustrations by 
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J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA 



OCT 16 1906 


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OCT 18 '9^ 






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